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18 January - 12 February 2008

Mike Harvey : Paintings and Drawings

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MikeHarveyThePositionoftheTrueCross2004385x595ins

'The Position of the True Cross', 2004

Mike Harvey was picked out of an exhibition of young painters at the Arnolfini in Bristol in the late 1970s by the Sunday Telegraph art critic Michael Shepherd, as possibly ‘a major talent’. 29 years later he had his first solo exhibition in a commercial gallery.

Born in Bristol in 1946, Harvey left school without qualifications. His drawings won him a place on a commercial design course which he never completed. He then worked as an apprentice in the design studios of the Bristol printers E.S.A. Robinson, but soon left to work as a builder, which he has done ever since.

Harvey has continued to draw and paint, although never full-time. He has exhibited and sold work from group shows at the Royal Academy, London and at Six Chapel Row in Bath but this exhibition, which included paintings and drawings completed over the last ten years, provided the first opportunity to view a substantial collection of Harvey’s work.

To some extent Harvey’s strength lies in his choice of subject matter. He tackles difficult subjects head on - for example, ‘Painting the Face of God’, or ‘Breaking down the Jew’s door’. His style, which has been likened to that of the American painter Kitaj, combines powerful figurative drawing with bright colour. His works are complex figurative compositions, often providing a powerful comment on some aspect of contemporary life. ‘Bad neighbour’, a drawing in which one man pisses on another’s leg, is a good example.

A well illustrated catalogue accompanied the exhibition.

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