The Enigmatic Art of Jody Harmon - Contemporary Surrealist

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 Victoria Gritton - LEO Magazine Visual Arts

(Review 1 of 2)

 Review of my solo exhibition at Galerie Hertz, June 1997

When Surrealism began as a literary movement in the early 1920s, its premise was subconscious thought and mental images uncontrolled by reason. The movement set out to combine the contradictory states of dream and waking life, and to link "reality" to the imaginary. The movement soon included the visual arts by encompassing the work of Max Ernst and Salvador Dali.

It is not often today that one sees an artist who displays the aesthetic of surrealism and possesses the caliber of skill to rival past surrealists, but Jody Harmon is one such artist. Harmon lets his paintings evolve, allowing the creative process to take over. For instance, with "The Royal Facade" he began with only the female figures but it soon developed into a statement on royalty and inner family rivalry. In this painting one sees in the bottom right hand corner a child, whom Harmon describes as "the next heir to the crumbling castle in the background". Harmon's mental wandering plays out in the scene. A ghostly protector floats above a jester and four other figures. The idea of mortality is represented in the signs of decay on all five figures.

In most of his paintings, Harmon spreads his subject matter across a bleak, muted landscape. "This type of background sets a lonely, desolate tone, creating a powerful mood". Harmon describes "News of the Sea" as an "ecological piece". In it a female form with a coral reef head and seaweed cape crawls out of the sea as flying fish circle her head. She represents a spokeswoman from the sea, despondent and angry.

For his future work, Harmon plans to expand on the style and effect he achieved in "Decor for a Southwestern Tragedy", where his colors are more starkly monochromatic and the main elements are unsettlingly windblown.

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