Bathing Figure by Sam Harrison for SCAPE Public Art Season 2016
Christchurch-based Sam Harrison is a leading proponent of contemporary figuration, well known for his observant, emotionally resonant sculptures and woodcuts. Harrison has made a new work for Presence, featuring a female figure whose spine arches across the form of a large river boulder, her arm shielding her eyes. The pose might refer to the feeling of warming your body after a swim in the river, or may be read as representing a more charged state of anguish or lament. Scenes of bathers populate much art history most notably in works by Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. Bathing scenes allow for the scrutiny and depiction of the figure in a variety of poses. Whilst these historic painters’ enquiries had more to do with the architecture of the picture plane, Harrison shares a fascination with the form of the figure under tension. The artwork will be located within Market Square at the Arts Centre, off Worcester Boulevard.
Sam Harrison is a Christchurch sculptor whose work depends on the scrutiny of the human figure. Such a practice needs to be cognisant and respectful of art history’s length enquiry into the human form and yet it ought to transcend the conceptual aridity of mere formal observation by adding an emotional and psychological candour. Harrison’s work is extremely rare in the manner in which it manages this challenge. Harrison’s capacity to ‘make’ is exceptional. When married with the sensitivity and acuity of his looking, he is capable of delivering works that are freed of sentimentality but remain charged with emotion and sincerity. Harrison has won major commissions, both public and private in Australia and is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.