The Enigmatic Art of Jody Harmon - Contemporary Surrealist

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 Diane Heilenman, Art Critic for the Louisville Courier - Journal

(Review 2 of 2)

 Review of my solo exhibition at Galerie Hertz, June 1997

In a world where it's hard to be different, Galerie Hertz has made a lucky discovery. The fantastical paintings of Jody Harmon of Louisville are clearly his own independent brand of surrealism. He has a personal and consistent symbolism that appears to be about the condition of living in general and specifically about the artists life.

One symbol that appears frequently is a red scarf or banner. When used alone, it tends to read as a decorative image. When attached to a standard with a running figure at the top, it becomes more significant, a symbol of aspirations.

Some of Harmon's paintings are seemingly simple to understand.
"The Release" shows two long-robed, priest-like figures holding the cords of two extravagantly fantastic flying/swimming creatures. The scene is set in a landscape with remarkable three-dimensional mountains formed by paint combined with sand. The flat surfaces are meticulously stroked. Detail is fine. The effect is bejeweled. Given the title, it sounds like this painting is about releasing the imagination.

In "From My Armchair", a peculiar figure - a naked torso bereft of head and limbs - is propped against one wall of a corner of a room. In a disturbingly unlikely manner, the torso wears a cameo necklace. It is seemingly through these surrogate eyes of the face on the cameo that the viewer gets a sense of a human presence.

The viewer and the cameo /torso look at an illusion on the other wall of the painted room. It appears to be a landscape with the running figure on the red bannered standard stuck in a fleshy blob that is being dissected, or something.

If you are getting the idea that almost everything has double meanings that aren't always clear, you are getting the picture.

It can get psychologically heavy. In another work, five chess-like figures of women protect/imprison a child (the artist?) Standing neck-deep in a hole in the desert. Castle ruins are in the background.

Harmon's paintings put the viewer in touch with a certain adolescent quality of thought and delight in the macabre and strange, which is refreshing. His is an intriguing world of images and ideas conveyed through a sumptuous style and technique.


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