Times Review / Montreal Review: In an interview
for Lifestyle Magazine you said "It's those that I
am painting that are telling the story, I am only trying
to capture it." ("The
Timeless Tales of Glenn Harrington", Lori Donovan,
Lifestyle Magazine, November 2006). This is a scientific
approach in art, very realistic and humble. This is may
be a search for truth? Do you think that the artist is able
to erase his personality in order to re-create the world?
Harrington: All my work is a reflection of the
realness that daily life contains. It's an effort to expose,
in a celebrated way, the seemingly banal. We need not deny
our perceptions and observations to "re-create the
world", the world has already been created and we had
nothing to do with it. In fact, it's these essential qualities
that enable us to capture how we feel about what we are
painting. Hopefully, they reveal truthful aspects of the
subject. Van Gogh said to exaggerate the essential. First
you must understand the qualities that are essential. The
process begins with impartial observation and ends with
our own interpretations of that observed reality.
You like portraits. Why?
Because I like people. No other creation is as complex,
varied, beautiful and important.
If I'm not wrong the art of painting is a story telling
for you. So, you are a story teller. Tell me about other
story tellers - painters, writers - why and what you like
Nothing is devoid of some form of narrative whether visual
or literal. We might be right or wrong in our perceptions,
they may or not be important, but we were born to communicate.
Translation from the visual to the literal, or vise versa,
requires that we find an approach, this effort produces
a style. There are visual writers and literal painters.
Surely we feel one way or the other about everything we
encounter. If story telling is evident in my work, it means
that I am trying to share an idea of connected visual events
with the viewer. Usually, it's one that ties together people
to their environment. One of the most popular paintings
in America in the 1890's was that of a young man facing
his comforting mother, surrounded by 5 people and a dog
in a basic room as he prepared to leave home and embark
out on his own. It's by Thomas Hovenden and is entitled
"Breaking Home Ties". Everyone can relate to someone
in this painting which might explain its popularity. In
technique and design, it is not necessarily an "important"
painting. Some would label it sentimental. But you cannot
avoid its veracity and the power of its content transcends
any shortcomings attributed to it. The narrative is obvious
and directed. The other end of the spectrum might be an
abstract expressionists approach that reduces the "story"
to the basic elements involved in the force behind a picture.
Book writers use different writing styles and techniques.
Marcel Proust is different from Chekhov, Nabokov is different
from Hemingway. They paint, but with words. Who is the author
that writes in the way you paint?
You mention Chekhov. When I read his short stories and plays
I am deeply touched; emotionally and visually. When reading
his work, words are transformed to pure emotion and I am
not aware that I am physically reading. I want paintings
to have the same effect; that is, that you're not necessarily
looking at paint, but experiencing an event. He is a compassionate
writer with an excellent way of interweaving the perfect
interplay of imagery and prose to create a beautiful reality.
He is also a visual writer who never sacrifices content
for the ornamental. Brushwork on the paintings surface is
important, but second to its content. An editor, Marion
Fell, said that he rarely spent more than a day on his short
stories. That quick, distilled impact is what I'm trying
to emulate. He seemed humble and caring. A young doctor
with a good sense of humor. I have difficulty separating
his personal characteristics from his work - I think they
are the reason for his work. "Uncle Vanya", "A
Day in the Country" and "A Work of Art" are
among my favorites.
The popular image of the artist is this - poor, bohemian,
sensitive and "unrecognized". Can we say that
this image is accurate?
I don't believe it's that limited. I think you must be a
sort of businessman, a promoter of your own work today,
even if that means just getting your work to galleries.
Many artists have families, money and recognition. This
might suggest that the drive is to seek commercial success
but it shouldn't mean that a commercially successful artist
isn't producing important work, or that they are producing
work purely for this end. The market is there today and
if there's a struggle in the classic sense of the term,
it's to find a way of expressing what you love. Recognition
comes when others feel the same way.
There are problems in today's economy. Do you think
that the present crisis will affect the life of the artists
and art in general? How does recession affect your work?
No doubt it has, and will continue to. There's a process
of weeding out going on. Perhaps this present gloom will
summon the old titles given to the artist; "poor, bohemian,
sensitive and unrecognized", but it won't last. I have
noticed that many talented, knowledgeable, established professionals
in the private sector, ie. doctors, lawyers, brokers, are
talking less about "giving up the practice to express
my creative side". I've reminded some of them how creative
they are in their own fields. It's been said that everyone's
an artist today, I'm just glad that people like me are not
fling 747's. The purchases of gallery work has slackened
for the time being but this doesn't effect the production
and quality of personal work and if we can live simply we'll
ride it out.
Thank you very much for the shared thoughts! I wish
you to find in future more good subjects with good, inspiring
Exhibition" of Glenn Harrington (March 12 to April
Ettinger Gallery, New York
paintings of Harrington are highly esteemed among collectors
and publishers. His paintings have been featured in American
Arts Quarterly, American Art Collector, International Artists
Magazine, the covers of American Artist & US Art, New
Art International, The New York Times, and Philadelphia
Inquirer. He has numerous solo exhibitions in New York,
Japan, Charleston, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, and
has exhibited at the Norman Rockwell Museum, The Museum
of American Illustration and the USGA Museum.
paintings have been published on over 500 book covers. His
portrait work received numerous prizes - the Draper Grand
Prize in 2007, the Honor Award in 2005 and Certificate Award
in 2004 from the Portrait Society of America's international
Ettinger Gallery, 119 Spring Street, New York 10012.
more information: http://www.eegallery.com/
interview has been published in Montreal