Fisher Parrish Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of works by New York based painter Alexander Harrison. In this powerful new body of work Harrison utilizes visual tropes such as borders, windows, and enclosures to transform the two-dimensional picture plane into a portal in which a viewer looks, but cannot return through – such as a vast rural landscape through the bars of a prison cell. By drawing attention to the distance between viewer and subject via these framing devices, he evokes a sense of incapacity, longing, intimacy, and voyeurship similar to his own experience. Within the frame, his imagery ranges from subtle and sublime landscapes, to contrastingly graphic surrealistic depictions of race and black culture in America – a vulgar and fleshy watermelon, a black cowboy, a veiled policemen, and a man in chains.
Harrison’s work speaks to his growing up as a young black man from the South attempting to understand his own sense of freedom. Neil Roberts, a professor of Africana and political theory, postulated that freedom might be found in the suspended act of fleeing itself. With this new body of work, Harrison conveys a similarly fraught notion of freedom, defined by his own experience of both loss and liberation. For Harrison, freedom has felt oftentimes perpetually out of reach, or paradoxically bound up with confinement.
Harrison grew up in a small cul-de-sac in Marietta, South Carolina, a primarily white southern town. He writes of his own upbringing, "We called my neighborhood the Goldmine, and it was in the Goldmine where I was able to carve out a sense of freedom, love, and comfort among my family, sheltered from the disaffection and hostility that characterized the town at-large — a town in which it was commonplace to be called the n-word, get jumped, or have guns drawn on you. As I got older though, I took every opportunity to leave town – to go to school, to meet up with friends, and so on. There was a kind of intrigue and stimulation that came from passing through the risks and fears posed by Marietta, South Carolina at-large. Now that I’m older, I realize that my ability to dissociate from my immediate surroundings in search of something “better” – whatever that may amount to – is a terrifying asset.”