Tommy Harrison’s work is preoccupied with the process of constructing and collapsing the painted image. Demonstrating a highly sophisticated range of techniques and influences, the artist’s work draws on various painterly traditions from the High Renaissance to the present day. Each work is ultimately concerned with the technical journey that is taken to arrive at a composition, built up through an unfolding process over several months, beginning with geometric forms that lead to a range of possible outcomes before being resolved into dark, mysterious landscapes and uncanny interiors. 

Harrison begins by drawing directly onto the canvas using tailor’s chalk, establishing an initial framework for each composition that becomes quickly discarded. Operating without preconceived logic, the process by which images emerge is circuitous, with the artist responding in stages to his own previous marks and gestures until a direction begins to reveal itself. This provides a blueprint, from which nascent formal and figurative imagery emerges, creating a point of tension from which Harrison can continue to build or dismantle with the application of oil paint. Allowing for a kind of ordered spontaneity to guide his process, as opposed to contrived planning, Harrison slowly negotiates a plurality of possible compositional outcomes, working on multiple canvases simultaneously over weeks and months. His paintings are often anchored by a motif or found subject derived from art history and wider visual culture. Cropped bodies, animals, theatrical curtains, ornate patterns, anonymous landscapes or claustrophobic interiors, are appropriated and deployed as pure form, stripped of narrative or didactic function.

Tommy Harrison (b. 1996, Stockport, UK) is currently studying for an MFA in painting at the Manchester School of Art (2021-23), for which he received in 2020 the Haworth Trust Painting Scholarship. In 2022 he had a solo exhibition titled Frozen Mid-Melt at Pipeline Contemporary, London (UK). Harrison’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Chapelle de l’Humanité, Paris (FR); Islington Mill, Salford (UK); Elysium Gallery, Swansea (UK) where he was shortlisted for the Beep International Painting Prize; Bankley Gallery, Manchester (UK); and Holden Gallery, Manchester (UK).