Elliptical Confinement

Elliptical Confinement1 300dpi

I am pleased to reveal my new work Elliptical Confinement. It is an interactive immersive painting that is built on a 3D object generated out of the data sets of mass incarceration in the United States over the past decade.

Capitalism has created the largest epidemic of mass incarceration in human history. We have monetized human confinement, just as we have criminalized human behavior. Until we can see the scale that this modern form of slavery has created it will remain invisible to us as a society

This piece is part of a 3 location group show Geometrix happening in Washington D.C. The work is on view in a gallery but is also available via the web to anyone in the world. It is increasingly important to me that my work be available to more than just a handful of collectors and the web is the perfect medium for that to occur.

Please share the work around and help me bring attention to the insane politics of incarceration that occur within the US and increasingly abroad as the result of the privatization of the prison industry.

Elliptical Confinement

http://curatorsoffice.com/ellipticalconfinement

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GEOMETRIX: Line, Form, Subversion presented by Curator’s Office D.C.
3 Venues, 3 Months, 3 Opening Receptions
January 14 – April 16, 2016
curatorsoffice.com

RSH- ACID at Imitate Modern

The Alkahest
(from the introduction to the catalogue to RSH – ACID)

Painting is like the formation of primeval life, a pushing and pulling of energies that by some powerful statistical anomaly creates the absolute. Painting is a performative act of limitless expression. When we look at art in the early 21st century, we see a landscape proliferated with creators who utilize the internet as part of the dialog of their work. Either through direct consumption and appropriation of imagery found on the web, or through the performative structure of social media.

This push and pull of the immaterial realm of the web against the material realm of the traditional painter is the membranous boundary between the previous incarnation of art and its future self – a historic period much akin to the Voyager space probe finally pushing out of the heliosphere and being free of the immediate effects of the sun’s gravity. Art in the 21st century is finally shedding its 20th century skin, rubbing it off like a snake against the hard rock of data that swells around us every day. The boundary of the liminal space that is the internet, exists as a constant in the realm of the imagination, bringing with it a kind of extrasensory perception. This constant interaction with people informs the creative process of the majority of artists under forty and brings to the table an evolving dialog in which we must understand the role of the artists as public persona.

Painting as a form of expression is mankind’s oldest art form. By bringing the performance of the now – that is painting – into the liminality of the web, we create a space that the public can project its imagination onto, the record of action that is the painted surface. By taking this to the architectural level, it allows the viewer to stand inside of the painting, being encompassed by the form and colour.

Expanding painting not just beyond the edge of the canvas, but beyond the confines of the material, painting must evolve, must go beyond the boundaries of the physical if it is to remain relevant in the 21st century. How then does one take such an intrinsically physical practice as painting and transform it into the immaterial? Through social interaction, through networked media, and through the constant feedback loop of the internet dialog.

The alchemical process in the creation of the Alkahest is to distill, by reducing that purification the alchemist is able to finally create the universal solvent. The web allows for a constant recycling of ideas, a sampling of fractal proportions that makes everything self-referential. With the works in ACID, I have sampled only my own previous work, distilling the pieces from gestural paintings into geometric collages through a process of destruction and re-creation.

We stand at the threshold of a new era in art, where production and conceptualization are freed of the realities of the material world. The ‘materia mobilis’ of reality is giving way to a limitless space of creation – that immaterial realm of the digital.

-RSH, Jan 2015

 

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Download the complete catalogue with a full introduction by artist John LeKay here.

 

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Every year we are alive could be the one that contains our death, unwrap it slowly.

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Wednesday is a strange day on which to end a year. Its like the middle of a project and suddenly it ends and a new project starts. 2014 was an incredible year, a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs.

In Jan I went to Los Angeles to realize my project MIRAGE in its first version. A 130×35 ft mural integrated into a augmented reality app MIRAGE was painted as a site specific piece in DTLA’s Fashion District. It was an incredible two weeks in LA, eating as many tacos as I could stuff in my face from as wide a range of taco trucks and restaurants as possible. Spent 2 weeks in the hot sun, painting a massive hotel in the Fashion District and browsing the stacks of Vacation Vinyl on Sunset Drive.

Having missed the coldest bit of winter I returned to London to start work on a series of new works in collaboration with the Swedish software firm Whisqu. It was pretty awesome using a robot to draw, especially the way in which the altered/glitched file data makes the plotter jerk in an almost epileptic fit while drawing. These glitch based plotter drawn works will be revealed mid 2015.

Sometime in late summer Paul Miller (DJ Spooky) released his long awaited book the Imaginary App, which featured MIRAGE from its original concept sketches, long before it became a reality. As summer settled in I signed with my first commercial gallery in London, Imitate Modern, and have now been in two group shows and an upcoming solo show in Feb 2015.

Come August I got to help one of my favorite painters Maya Hayuk on a private commission. Just inspiring to stand back and watch her do her thing for 5 days. She is a real painter, constantly thinking about the whole work, physically pushing the paint. Honestly one of the best in the world right now. A really great way to spend a week.

In October I went to Silesia Poland to create my largest ever piece of public art. A massive 5 story food bank that feeds the greater area of the town of Swidnica. It was a great experience brought about by the work of a local student group. The personal beauty is that this town is where my wife is from and the building is very near to her former school. It is on a shortcut path that kids take everyday so the primary viewers of the piece will be young students. Its an exceptional thing to be able to bring colour to so many young people’s lives. Plus bucket trucks at 75+ft up are like flying!

For the last two months of the year I have been working on my solo show ACID (opening 29 January!) at Imitate. The pieces of the show are broken in two, half being part of the installation itself, painted directly into the space. The other half are a series of ‘meta’ pieces I have been working on conceptually over the past year. For these pieces I take multiple paintings I have done on paper and cut into them with a razor in various patterns. Using the remains I collage them together into a new piece of art. It functions like a form of appropriation, a sampling of my own work. But as I am using the original and not a reproduction it acts like a distillation, purifying the piece into a metamorphic whole.

As I look out into 2015 its hard to speculate how things will go. ACID opens exactly four weeks from today. It feels in my head like I understand the shape of it, but who knows how it will develop on the ground? After the show I plan to get out of town for a break. Someplace warm. Malta maybe, or Portugal. The rest of the year is wide open. Absolute potential to do as much as I can and take what I do as far as I am capable.

As an aside I want to say that it was hard looking onto the world and seeing the effects of repression, violence and capitalist warmongering on the world stage. While I am a very strongly political person in private I make a point of keeping my work spiritual, as purely from within myself as I can. But the things going on in the world are dark, are patterns we have seen before in history and the scale with which the people of the world are victims to a handful of greedy bastards is unprecedented. But people are not blameless victims, we give these few the power they have both through our actions and our inaction. The world is walking down a dark path much the way it did a century ago, buying into a narrative being constructed by the very people who hold power over the public. We do not have to take this path, our actions can lead us just as much to victory and equality as it can to enslavement and darkness. Seek the light.

On to 2015, chaos reigns!

– RSH 31 Dec 2014

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Paint as Energy

A few months back I excitedly announced on social media that I had stumbled onto a new technique for painting. It was new to me but at the time I was unsure if it had been used before by any known painter. After some initial inquiries to a few respected critics and academics I confirmed that, if it had been used as a technique, it was never made public.

The discovery of any new approach to painting is, at least to me personally, grounds for excitement. It has long been said that nothing new can be done with paint, that all the ideas have been exhausted. Having found what I believed to be something new was a continental shift in my way of thinking about paint. It forced me to re-examine my previous techniques in light of this discovery, to reconcile my practice into a cohesive whole. Giving me new insight into things I have been doing for ages but never really stopped to considered.

In short this new technique involves using various handmade whips to apply paint to a surface with a great deal of force. An intense release of energy upon impact that creates various textural forms and requires a great deal of subtle control as it is very easy to damage the surface in unintended ways. Even the process of damaging the surface intentionally is one that has taken me time to consider.

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After months of exploration I have finally found things to say with this technique. I have a long road ahead of me over the coming years exploring the vast terrain that the whip technique opens up but I wanted to share a basic premise that has come to me through this process.

Painting, in any form, is fundamentally about the controlled release of energy. This energy originates within the body, and its expression though paint occurs via any applicator. From the traditional brush through Pollocks sticks to my current whips the use of energy and its release is the fundamental that centers painting. Much like a martial art painting involves the entire body, a dance that frees ideas in the form of energy to make marks on a surface.

When we chose to paint, as opposed to other forms of artistic creation, we tap into the extended expression of the body in nature. As a painter we learn to speak in a language that is made of colour and form, but whose vehicle is the energy being transferred from our actions into the paint and onto the surface. It is this relationship between our bodies and the surface that defines painting, but it is the energy itself that gives painting its soul.

I look forward to a summer of further exploration with my new found discovery.

 

– RSH

Vernal Sacrifice

Over the past year I have been privately working on the concept of rural interventions with colour. Dealing with the natural space in the way I have been working with architecture over the past decade. Vernal Sacrifice is the first in a series of pieces I will be doing over the next year.

The paint is water base children’s tempera (poster) paint and is fully non toxic and environmentally safe. It will fade in just a matter of a couple of days in its environment without leaving a trace behind.

Vernal Sacrifice 3

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Vernal Sacrifice 2

Vernal Sacrifice 4

Vernal Sacrifice

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Vernal Sacrifice 9

Vernal Sacrifice 7

Vernal Sacrifice 6

Vernal Sacrifice 8

#rsh #raymondharmon

Nostalgia Ink

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I’ve been thinking a lot about comic books lately. The driving factor is that the comic book store of my youth, whose sign over the door even today is one I hand painted many years ago, is closing up shop. Leonard Litteral the proprietor is retiring after 35 years in the business.

The things I discovered in Leonard’s shop Nostalgia Ink have shaped a great deal of my life. In small town America being exposed to culture isn’t exactly on the priorities list of the town council. There are no museums in which to view masterpieces, no cultural centers in which to be exposed to great thinkers. Yet in my youth there was the comic book store.

I started out when Leonard had just opened his shop in its first location on Mechanic St. Coverless and torn copies of Kirby era Thor from the ¢10 box was my original fix. Eventually my allowance grew to better conditioned pieces and broadened to the Avengers and Dr Strange with the occasional Spiderman or XMen in the mix. But about age 13 my tastes started to change. I happened upon what is arguably the first “steam punk” literature in the form of a black and white comic called “Baker Street” (punks rockers in a 70s Britain where WWII was won by Germany. Dirigibles in the sky, hound’s-tooth coats and black bowler hats on citizens in a gritty postmodern world fought with straight razors and irony.) This led down an increasingly narrow road – through Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, to the works of Alan Moore, Bill Sienkiewicz, Grant Morrison, and others more obscure and obscene.

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Through the pages of these comics I discovered a taste for anarchism, for beautifully wrought panels painted and scratched, and a profound distaste for Reagan and Thatcher and the cold war that filled the minds of my generation in our fitful slumber. I discovered chaos magick, cockney rhyming slang, incredibly detailed nightmares that reflected a world beyond the one in which I lived. Yet more than anything else the seeds of an artist were sown into my soul by the words and the images I devoured as fast as my humble allowance would allow.

I remember the day that, a week before I was to go off to university, Leonard finally offered me a job. I was crushed to think that my dream of working there would never come to pass, as I was about to take flight finally from that small town. The irony of that last temptation to stay coming from the very place that fed my need to go still sits inside of me.

As I grew I continued to return even after moving away. Each holiday visit to my parents only an excuse to go see Leonard, to discover boxes of Drawn and Quarterly in a back storeroom, to raid his “adult” section of Robert Williams, S. Clay Wilson, Spain Rodriguez, and Robert Crumb comics – to fill out my collection with Zap, Weird, Fantagraphics and many other titles. I traded the sign above the door sometime in the early 90s for a box of first edition of Robert Williams comics.

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In this age of internet boundariless society it is hard to understand the importance of the comic bookstore to a place like Jackson, Michigan. Comic book shops were vast repositories of challenging ideas, of endless masterpieces of aesthetics, page after page of imagery to feed the mind. Words that mingle with the emotions of youth to stir up untold potentialities. Libraries of uncensored revolutionary ideologies masquerading as merely heroes in capes, giant green men smashing things, Nietzschean superhumans as a caricature for modern governments. Comic book shops were the secret underground meeting places of generations of cultural revolutionaries. And Leonard was among the gatekeepers to this hidden world.

It is no exaggeration to say that I owe my life, the travels and experiences I have so far enjoyed, the heartaches and dramas that have unfolded, the desire to escape that small town and see the world that had so far only been framed in the exquisite panels of those comics, to Leonard. Just as a boy that yearned so much to visit one day the London of those comic book pages I now write from my garden in London as an adult. I would not be here if it wasn’t for Leonard and his shop. I would not be who I am today.

Thank you Leonard. For bringing into my and many other’s worlds a joy that has no equal. For lighting the path of a darkened town devoid of culture and providing us with access to the stuff that dreams are made of.

Thank you.

RSH

August 24, 2013