“The purpose of drawing is to make thought evident!” asserts Rod Harman in discussion of his watercolour compositions.
He works compulsively, motivated by a fundamental necessity to convey ideas, creating vibrant multilayered drawings in a primitive spiritual manner.
It was Picasso who determined that we should paint like children, to explore the world that surrounds us and express it innocently and without history. This sentiment is evident in the majority of Harman’s drawings, using vivid colours and simple forms to illustrate the most basic of human concerns; life and death, sex, spirituality and existence. He explores these elements repetitiously, combining crude symbols of genitalia and skulls with ghosts and Jesus and the holy Mount Canigou.
This contemplation of life and death avoids the inevitability of mortality, but couples with the prolific phallus symbol to demonstrate the necessity of a Darwinian evolution, to procreate and continue our worldly existence. Sex celebrates a unified oneness through the spiritual embodiment of another being.
There is a sense of spirituality throughout the work and intention of the artist, not to revive or pose a religious directive, nor to elaborate divinity but as a means of connecting to his subjects and relating them to his artistic practice. When Harman first encountered the Pieta Rondanini he fell to his knees, struck by Michelangelo’s pure vision of this holy scene. Mary supports Jesus in his decent from the cross; their bodies align and form an everlasting spiritual bond before Jesus’ descends into hell. Standing before this incomplete stone provided a pivotal moment of inspiration that still affects Harman today, carrying the weight of life and death with hope and purpose.
Physical Spirit introduces a selection of drawings that have presented themselves to the artist in moments of revelation; where dreams have come into being, and where influence has stretched from beyond our world, past friends and lovers returning to teach and challenge the artist. They unify to provide an understanding of the artist’s profound desire for redemption, where failings and misdemeanours need reconciling, and lessons can still be taken from lost souls and lost love. He is determined to stand at the gates of heaven with peace and conviction.
For a man who has suffered heartfelt loss, this belief in continued life and of a spiritual plane is the life-blood, the motivation that drives him to create a body of physically and spiritually captivating work.
* Words by Richard Best