Watching Nicholas Harding work is a lesson in the promises and problems of painting. He moves back and forth from the canvas, taking in the big view and then honing in on inscrutable detail. Figures are constituted from swathes of paint into recognisable forms then smashed into something enigmatic. To avoid illustration is his maxim. What matters for Harding is your visceral response; that the energy and motion of the pigments hit you, so you feel, as well as see, what is in front of you. Harding describes it as a process through which "at some point, the illustration falls away and it is primarily paint".
Harding recently said to me "Good paint wonÃt save a bad composition". The armature of these urban grids has been carefully considered through preparatory drawings. Look beyond the paint and notice how the lines lead you to points of focus and establish an urban perspective; itÃs through this structure that Harding coerces us into noticing the lurid orange jacket in the camping shop window, to feel the constriction of cyclone fencing, to measure the diverging motions of a crowd.
These urban scenes are not picnic destinations. They are stolen moments from the daily grind, when we step out of ourselves and notice something wondrous; the magic buzz of a crowded station or a pang of concern for a wandering dog. As great artists do, Harding makes us stop and look and imagine. Yet again, he not only shows us the continuing possibilities of paint but also the endless provision of our every day.
Paul Flynn 2007
Represented By: Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
Forthcoming Exhibition:20 Oct-14 Nov 2009