Bradley Harms


3 Flags, 2017
Hand applied acrylic on linen
20 x 16 in.

For the past number of years, Bradley Harms has taken a leading role in a new and forward-looking wave of Canadian abstraction. He has built upon traditions within the medium, whilst also creating work that reflects and critiques contemporary social and technological developments. Harms' work addresses the manner in which we perceive painting: manipulating the ideas of surface, form, and our notion of perfection.

Bradley Harms received his BFA from the University of Calgary in 1996 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004. Harms has exhibited extensively throughout Canada, as well as on the international stage, including Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Munich, Sydney, Singapore, and Tokyo.

Bradley Harms has exhibited throughout Canada. He has had numerous solo and group shows at Newzones in Toronto and Winsor Gallery in Vancouver. The most recent of which is his solo 2017 exhibition entitled I Can See My House From Here. The paintings in this new series stem from an impulse to deviate from the formal qualities in other veins of my practice. While not directly attached to the procedural rigour embedded in other parts of my painting, these works employ some of their qualities, but are further allowed the freedom of impulse and improvisation. Free of from, these new light-driven abstractions come from observations of trends within contemporary abstraction and become the “other” to what has quite frankly, become a safe and self reflexive environment.

His work is included in such notable collections as: the Canada Council’s Artbank (Ottawa, ON), The Senvest Collection of New Canadian Art (Montreal, QC), Alberta Foundation for the Arts (Edmonton, AB), the Glenbow Museum (Calgary, AB), the University of Western Sydney (Sydney, Australia), the Bank of Montreal (Toronto, ON), the Nickle Arts Museum (Calgary, AB) and Tama Art University (Tokyo, Japan).

About his work he writes:

As I pay close attention to the material aspects of painting, my work certainly exudes a sense of technological awareness. These paintings are contemporary objects with seams and edges that are confident and exacted. The surfaces, painted with mechanical conviction, undoubtedly borrow from the tropes of digital art and, though I enjoy the mimicry, I eschew machine techniques by hand applying the delicately modulated lines; trumping the manufactured aesthetic with the hand made.

The precision of the lines, themselves, hints at technology, where the gesture repeated forms elaborate and complex systems, flipping between surface assertion and spatial invitation. These accumulations hint at endlessness, as they exceed the viewer’s visual awareness; a contemplation of modernism is transferred into a more frighteningly contemporary construct. Unlike the modernist impulse, they are not intended to be reductive but additive in nature, subsequently allowing for a field of discourse that is open-ended and reflective of our techno-driven ability to process vast amounts of information: The simple relationships of very complex systems.

What can be certain is that the work employs a hybridization of style. It dismantles abstraction, reconfiguring it in order to create a viable and forward-looking syntax that reflects current social and technological developments without simply mirroring them. These are perfectionist paintings that extol imperfect formal and social realms. I craft paintings that are slick as well as sincere, diagrammatic as well as sensual, almost self-conscious of their identity as abstract paintings. As we move towards the world of the pixel, the world of paint becomes evermore alchemical and seductive—more viral—responding to that which seeks to obliterate it by mutating and renewing itself once again into the great “other”.

Though this work, I acknowledge that painting is and will be continue to be problematic. I feel a responsibility to continue parsing painting’s language; its authority, history, and affiliations. And besides, I find problems more stimulating than presupposed solutions.