Friends of the gallery will recognise the name, Harry Bland featured in The Rude Gesture exhibition back in 2016, but its doubtful you'd recognise the work. Gone are the loud and large canvases, replaced by a body of work that is much more subdued, contemplative and mature. Timely, given the times we are living through, these relatively reserved works contemplate the unique sense of isolation one feels when living in a city even when we were allowed to join the bustle. Lit by electric light, distorted reflections in broken glass capture a glimpse of recognition of the subject yet we are distanced, unable to truly connect.
Bland began working on smaller scale paintings in 2018 with the intention of exacting greater control of the media, being physically closer to the canvas while working suggested a more direct and honest approach. The latest works completed for Dark City are often painted as multiples, described by Bland as ‘twins’. Rather than attempting to exactly recreate the images the twins represent mirrored reflections, allowing the viewer to question which is the real figure and which is the echo. Either way, we are voyeurs on these fleeting glimpses, momentarily catching the eye of strangers who Bland sees as aimless wanderers, trudging the streets of London in some search for belonging.
Harry Bland studied at Wimbledon School of Art and the Royal College of Art, his work is held in numerous private collections. He lives, works 'and hates' London.