Claire Harvey

Born in the United Kingdom in 1976

Claire Harvey was born in 1976. She studied at Reading University, Chelsea College of Art in London, and recently completed a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions include- Easily Removable, Member’s room, Tate Modern, London; Biennial of Contemporary Art, Le Havre, France; Unisono 18: Claire Harvey, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Netherlands; Prix de Rome 2007, Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Politics, Maisterra Valbuena, Madrid, Spain.

Artist Claire Harvey is not only amazingly talented but amazingly versatile. Spanning work rendered in oil on canvas, pencil on post-it notes, and images drawn on tape (yes, tape), her practice is just as conceptual as it is emotionally evocative. Claire’s work focuses on the small, seemingly insignificant moments that happen in life, but she re-frames these moments and presents them in a way that infuses the resulting image with a potent longing and deep meaning.

Claire Harvey presents a series of delicate, figurative oil paintings on glass, canvas and transparency which make clever puns on material and scale while portraying the most quotidian acts and circumstances. With images reminiscent of film noir stills, Harvey forms a fleeting, melancholic universe of existential isolation.

The main gallery features an installation created by employing an assemblage of pre-determined elements and relationships improvised on site. Using overhead projectors and spotlights to stage narrative scenes composed of light and shadow, the installation becomes a cinematic exploration – at once a screening of a silent movie and the set itself. The viewer is implicated, as his passage through the gallery space forms shadows that reveal or conceal parts of the installation.

Harvey’s nostalgic, gray-toned universe is one in which illusions and objects come together in a magic network of elusive perceptions, associations and impossibilities. While always retaining an unspecified nature, the solitary figures and moments captured are images culled from newspapers, films, magazines and photographs (some taken by the artist). They are fragments of scenes and visual manifestations of the meeting point of disparate realities. Incomplete acts and subtle gestures create unexpected, accidental exchanges and interactions between characters. While one person tugs on a loose thread, another uses it to balance on like a tightrope walker. A man stands on a large ball made of sticky tack, the very same adhesive material used to fix the transparency to the wall. This double use of material as a practical agent and a compositional element is characteristic of Harvey’s work. She draws you into the fantasy while revealing the mechanism of the illusion at the same time.

Claire Harvey’s works recalled feelings that I had in the past. There was nothing special in my life, compared to my peers’ lives. But I had slightly different and distinctive experiences that I needed to go through by myself, for it was not only from outside but also from inside my mind. I had to get through some difficulties that made me seriously consider about relationship and why people should socialize. Every time I encountered death, I felt doubt not only about life and death but also about love that I literally poured. That thought about death and other complicated things submerged in spite of myself because I was too young to have those headachy thoughts so long in my mind. However, when I again encountered death after growing much older, those feelings and thoughts popped out of Pandora’s box that sank deep inside my heart. I became scared to have deep relationship with other people. Love I poured to something or someone backfired with the name of death or leaving. Why, should we keep relationship with all those mortal beings? I declared to myself, “Now I am sick of being left behind…! I won’t love anymore. And I will keep such shallow relationship, if I have to.”

Harvey draws an individual on each paper. Individuals on her works seems to be seculded and lonely. No matter what they are doing– walking, working, studying, socializing, and meditating, they do by  alone. I believe her works precisely point that we are eventually alone. Of course we have families, friends, and many other ties. However, I is I and individuals are individuals. Blood could make unbreakable relationship among people but even one’s parents cannot replace one and live one’s life instead. It could be solitude for some, while it is loneliness for others. What I want to say is that although individuals live their own lives by alone, we also get together with others, like the fourth picture posted above. Mingling with people such as schoolmates, neighbors, companions, and even families, they carefully let people in their lives making various intersections with a variety of people. It is never ignorable. Relationship is the factor that deepens and thickens our lives.

I felt like she soothes my wrath against natural rules.

“Being alone is fine. Nothing to lose because you had nothing from the first. Don’t need to be left behind by anyone, for you were alone from the beginning.”

I partially admit relationship is relationship, and death is separate. And her works might be significant influence on how my project would be displayed.