“I believe that art and life are synchronised, that we learn about life and its events by discovering ourselves, and that equally we learn about ourselves after having endured life,” says London born and based painter Rebecca Harper. “My works are reactions to their life sources – a reflection of the time we are living in, and a strong desire to have an argument with it, for example.”
Graduating from The Royal Drawing School in 2014 and then from Turps Art School in 2018, Rebecca is currently an artist-in-residence at the Ryder Space Project at A.P.T in Deptford, and is about to open her first solo show, Chameleon, at Anima Mundi Gallery in St Ives.
This new series of works, curated from the last two years, explore themes of transience, restlessness, settlement and displacement. These often large-scale paintings are full of motion and activity; figures clamber over rocks, run through forests and swim in the sea. Comprised of fictional and real reference material, Rebecca’s pieces are reconstructed fragments of memories, observations and borrowed imagery that combine to create scenes that sit between dreamscapes and reality. The latter further grounded by fashion logo motifs, such as Adidas jumpers and Nike trainers.
In order to produce these fragmented worlds, Rebecca works with acrylics on large canvases that she treats “much like a carpet” by walking, crawling and lying over them. “I enjoy working predominately on un-primed canvas because I like the absorbent and translucent nature of the paint as it sinks in,” she tells It’s Nice That. “Dependant on how wet it is, I can play with the seductive nature of moving the colour and marks around in various ways, and allow for the paint to have an element of chance by enabling them to bleed into one another.”
Prior to creating a finished piece, Rebecca will put down observations and ideas in her sketchbook using either graphite sticks or watercolours and brushes. After, she makes small gestural studies on pieces of paper that will later inform her work in the studio. Once she finds a study that resonates, she will begin work loosely on the wall. During this time, she makes sure to focus on scale, which she says is very important to her practice: “I like to be able to play with figures on a relative ‘humanistic scale’ in my paintings. I think it helps to set the stage and provide the opportunity to interact and become immersed,” Rebecca explains. “For me, painting on a smaller scale feels like playing with dolls rather than humans, which has its place too, but provides a viewing that is perhaps less public and more private.”
Rebecca’s upcoming exhibition at Anima Mundi Gallery opens at the beginning of March and runs until 6 April.
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