Michael Harris

Michael Harris is an oil painter, song-writer and world traveler from Toronto, Canada. Michael is self taught, having never sought out formal training in art.

For nearly 70 years, Western nations like Australia and Canada have enjoyed the benefits of relative social and political stability, secure borders and affluence. Generations have grown accustomed to the consistency of these circumstances, which has allowed us to believe that this is the norm for countries like ours and that it is natural for these conditions to continue indefinitely. Intellectually of course, thoughtful adults know this is not the case. The intransigent economic crisis in Europe and the United States, the global warming debate, the sabre-rattling between Israel and Iran, the boatloads of desperate refugees arriving on the shores of our two countries – these things remind us of the fragility of our good fortune. But we look around us and life seems to go on much as it always has. So we replace our blinders and settle back into comforting patterns of thought and continue as if we are immune to the currents that are re-shaping our world.

I used only sepia tones to make these paintings in order to emphasise the stark contrasts that are revealed when we distinguish between what is actually happening and our assorted personal and collective constructed realities. The expression “consensus reality” is beginning to be bandied about by media types and other social commentators to describe the collective version of this phenomenon. Often, buying into a particular consensus reality is a prerequisite for acceptance into a social or political group with which one wishes to be identified. We reflexively deny validity to the other group’s perspective, while we self-censure to avoid confronting weaknesses in our own. To critique the truth claims of our own peer group is seditious and likely to invite banishment. On an individual level, we may dissociate from qualities that we deny are ours, then project this shadow material onto others and condemn them. Or we may block out new revelations and insights by stubbornly and habitually clinging to unproductive attachments and beliefs.

We do these things grounded in certainty that our justifications are unimpeachable; that all that is delivered to the tabula rasa of our awareness is unmediated, objective truth; that the solution to my conflict with you is for you to privilege my perspective over your own; and that “group-think” is a virtue.

Ultimately, this is not a message of doom and gloom or pessimism. Rather, it is a dialogue about courage, engagement and awareness. Awareness not only of what is happening in the world outside of ourselves, but awareness of how the mechanisms and structures within us shape how we interpret and relate to the world and to each other.

—Michael Harris

Artworks

Selected exhibitions

2011 Jackman Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

2010 Terrance Robert Gallery, Ottowa, Canada

2010 Tower of People, Rouge Concept Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2010 The Crucified Mountie, Rouge Concept Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2009 Harvest, Rouge Concept Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2009 Forces Of Nature, Rouge Concept Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2009 Art Bent, Rouge Concept Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2009 Festival Of Smalls, Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2009 Landscapes and a Still Life , The Rebel House Toronto, Canada,

2009 Gallery 133, Toronto, Canada

2009 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2009 Tangerine Gecko Gallery, Markham Ontario

2008 Festival of Smalls, Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada,

2008 Integral Naked (online)

2008 Gallery 133, Toronto, Canada

2008 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2007 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2007 Gallery 133, Toronto, Canada

2007 Horticultural Design, Toronto, Canada

2006 Denise Roberge Gallery, Palm Desert, California

2006 Art Tao, Toronto, Canada

2006 Little Art Show, Riverdale Artists Network, Toronto, Canada

2006 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2006 Gallery 133, Toronto, Canada

2006 The Rebel House, Toronto, Canada

2006 Zucca, Toronto, Canada

2006 Horticultural Design, Toronto, Canada

2005 Oh Canada; Propeller Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2005 Propeller Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2005 The Blue Show; Eastern Front Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2005 Little Art Show; Riverdale Artists Network, Toronto, Canada

2005 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2005 Gallery 133, Toronto, Canada

2004 Little Art Show, Toronto, Canada

2004 Art For Life Auction, Toronto, Canada

2004 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2004 Riverdale Art Walk, Toronto, Canada

2003 The Crucified Mountie, Peterson Fine Art, Toronto, Canada

2003 Christmas Exhibition, Peterson Fine Art, Toronto, Canada

2003 Water; Peterson Fine Art, Toronto, Canada

2003 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2003 The Little Art Show, Eastern Front Gallery, Toronto, Canada

2002 The Little Art Show, Studio of Artists 25, Toronto, Canada

2002 Peterson Fine Art, Toronto, Canada

2002 Art Interiors, Forest Hill, Canada

2001 Delicia Art Haus, Toronto, Canada

2001 Lakeshore Arts 8th Annual Juried Art Show, Toronto, Canada

2001 Peterson Fine Art, Toronto, Canada

2000 The 39th Annual Outdoor Art Exhibition, Praxis Gallery, Toronto

2000 Group Christmas Exhibition, Praxis Gallery, Toronto

2000 Still Life Exhibition, Praxis Gallery, Toronto

2000 Annex 2nd Annual Patio Art Show

1999 Christmas Exhibition, Praxis Gallery, Toronto

1999 Still Life Exhibition, Praxis Gallery, Toronto

1999 Landscape Exhibition, Praxis Gallery, Toronto

1999 Annex 1st Annual Patio Art Show, Toronto