33 Contemporary Gallery is pleased to announce The Magnetic North Paintings solo exhibition by Canadian artist Drew Harris. Twenty years after his last Chicago exhibition, Harris returns to the Windy City with the maturity of a master abstractionist and the freshness of a painting technique that has characterized his work over the years.
Drew Harris’s paintings exist in a complex construct of tension, beauty, chaos, control and freedom; all coexisting side by side. To trace Harris’s work across time is to observe his devotion to painting as an act of respect for life and a way to assimilate the constantly changing world around him.
“Lying on a bed of pine needles, looking up at the northern night sky – is a memory. Looking straight up at a granite rock face that was formed when the glaciers retreated – is a memory. Feeling the soothing, gentle snowflakes on my face in winter – is a memory. My footfalls ploughing through deep and silent snow – is a memory. Swimming in turquoise water surrounded by blinding white bluffs – is a memory and hiking on hard jagged rocks, sliding on perfectly smooth round stones polished by the icy waters of the Great Lakes – is a memory.
The land and the weather are deep in my soul. The changing seasons have shaped me and given me touchstones of memory that have become my compass. My compass points magnetically north. No matter where I find myself on our beautiful blue planet, I am acutely aware of the direction that will take me home eventually, or never. Life is a journey.
Throughout my career as an artist, traveling has given me many places to temporarily call home, though born in Canada, I now reside permanently in Malaysia – thousands of miles and time zones away. But my heart and my identity remain in the north. The land of four seasons – the land as diverse as the people who call Canada, their true north, strong and free.
Across the northern hemisphere there are different shades of blue in the sky that you can tell just by the colour and the light what season it is: the piercing deep blue skies of autumn where everything at ground level is golden and backlit; snow skies of winter when the sky turns monotone and almost colourless; deep indigo when a storm is gathering; and then the spring, with its own shade of blue giving warmth and growth to yellow green renewal.
My memories float in my mind allowing me to touch down and dip my mind into that space in time once again. The fleeting feeling of peace that these moments give me has been a source of inspiration for my paintings. These memories have drawn me home once again in this series of paintings entitled, The Magnetic North Paintings.
My art is about longing and the loneliness that comes with being a foreigner in a land that is not my home, nor will ever be. Painting keeps my hand and heart in Canada while we wait out this global illness, hoping for renewal and the reward of returning home.
We must be thankful and protective of this beauty because the human race, in all its arrogance and haste, has made this land a fragile beauty. We must change our ways and revere the land and the weather, the water and the sky. It is our only home.” –Drew Harris