“Buried Alive”, a Retrospective Exhibition of Works by James C. Harrison

Please join Elephant Room Gallery for a panel discussion and exhibition opening of ‘Buried Alive; The Art of James C. Harrison 1950-1990’, a showcase of Brooklyn-based artist James C. Harrison’s foreboding and gritty Modernist paintings. Harrison (1925-1990) culled sinister corners of his imagination and unconscious to capture the elusive subject matter of cosmic symbolism and mystical spirituality via automatist mark making. Primarily self-taught, the artist transplanted from Detroit to Brooklyn where jazz music and the psychoanalytic philosophies of Carl Jung greatly informed the artistic production of what he called, “paint-drawings.” Engaging with the formal legacies of New York Myth-Makers and Surrealists, Harrison’s work recalls the graphic marks of Cy Twombly, a close friend of Harrison’s, and Robert Rauschenberg, with an expressive figuration that resonates with the sketchy, androgynous figures of Jean Michel Basquiat.

The exhibition features such works as Buried Alive, in which a sinuous interweaving of line and color simultaneously obscure and reveal bodily limbs and faces. Oscillating between vibrant abstraction and scrawled figuration, the work’s palette of primary colors discords with the ominous title. Harrison’s internal daemons of alcohol and drug addiction visually manifest in his complex, disquieting compositions. Despite being impoverished and historically obscured, he became a source of inspiration that endures for Artists like Chris Martin, Peter Acheson and James Wright and remains an abiding influence over younger painters today. Harrison succumbed to liver failure at age 64, the full breadth of his art historical legacy yet to be realized.

This exhibition has been made possible by Schmidt’s Antiques in Ypsilanti, MI, Harrison’s family and art lover and writer, Darin Latimer. Latimer discovered Harrison’s work at Schmidt’s Antiques a few years back and knew he had found something special. “I’m definitely not an Art professional but I went back to Schmidt’s and spent several days examining the work beyond the small amount they catalogued for their initial sale. I was overwhelmed… I think this may be an actual undiscovered Great American Artist and, after the tactile experience of opening folio after folio, I feel an obligation to him.” – Latimer

The exhibition runs February 3rd through February 25th with an opening reception on February 3rd from 6:30 to 9:00pm. The gallery is located at 704 S Wabash Ave. in the South Loop of Chicago. There will be a panel discussion open to the public on February 11th from 3pm to 5pm with the co-curator, Darin Latimer, and other artists and colleagues of Harrison. For more information on gallery hours and the panel discussion, visit the gallery’s website: www.elephantroomgallery.com or contact Kim at 312-361-0281.