Drawing Wall #31: David Harley

When: Sat, 28 Apr – Wed, 1 Aug 2018
Where: Shepparton Art Museum, 70 Welsford Street, Shepparton

Since the mid to late 90’s, David Harley has incorporated digital technologies and large format printing to produce his expanded ‘free-form’ abstract paintings. His practise draws on the traditions of Abstract Expressionism —a post-World War II painting movement that favoured abstract gestures over realistic representations of the world, used to convey emotive or universal themes.

Harley employs artistic techniques that evolved from our networked, digital age. Exchanging oil paints and canvas with a computer mouse and screen, he uses computer graphics software such as Photoshop, Blender and After Effects as artistic tools. His expressive approach to colour and line is then up-scaled and translated through digital printing processes onto adhesive wallpaper where the Drawing Wall becomes re-skinned. Sections of the work have been activated as live, digital abstractions, re-animated by motion graphics that generate implied three dimensional forms on two dimensional screens. The combination of digital media and art history allows Harley to explore space and materiality in new ways, while re-inventing tradition. 

Throughout his career, Harley has used classical music for inspiration. His painterly gestures conjure up the oscillating pitch and dynamic shifts of music, resembling a kind of graphic notation that might be read as a score. This is further amplified by the format of the Drawing Wall space with its long corridor that creates a kind of continuum. This said however, the linear progression usually implied by a musical piece instead folds and implodes into itself, as Harley’s expressive scrawl disrupts the progression of time. Likewise, with the introduction of moving paintings displayed on LCD screens, the artist moves beyond the facade of the two dimensional picture plane into three dimensional virtual terrain. 

David Harley has held over 25 solo exhibitions in both private and institutional gallery spaces. In 2015, he was awarded a practice-led PhD from the School of Art, Faculty of VCA&MCM (The University of Melbourne).  He has held sessional lecturing appointments at VCA, RMIT, Monash and VU. Harley has undertaken various artist residencies in Australia and Germany, at the VCA and RMIT University, Melbourne; and two at AtelierFrankfurt in Frankfurt Am Main. Harley has completed a series of large scaled commissioned artworks for buildings in Australia and Germany, including for the NAB and Deakin University in Melbourne. He is currently represented by Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne. The artist would like to acknowledge the support of SAM staff, Professors Kate Buchanan and Andy Bennett, Simone Slee, Coco Harley and Judith Harley.

Image: David Harley. Courtesy Charles Nodrum Gallery © the artist.