Born 1991 in Luxembourg, Thierry Harpes lives and works in Berlin and Luxembourg.
(Pictures between Time and Space)
"A new environment, plenty of time in isolation - and everything changes. Thierry Harpes' latest series of works impressively shows how our environment influences thinking and artistic expression. Just before the first COVID-19 lockdown, the artist went to Luxembourg, where he spent an entire year. That time in quarantine, the seeming standstill interlaced with changes characterise these works, which speak of places in the south of France, Luxembourg and Berlin.
Multiple points of view are typical for the work of Thierry Harpes: three-dimensional acrylic glass objects that you can walk around to always unlock new views are at the core of his work. During the last few months, he switched to painting on flat surfaces made of canvas or wood. Nevertheless, he hasn't deviated from his original approach: his paintings are still characterised by multiplicity. The cutouts that structure the works It's (a)rose (2021) and Gesundbrunnen (2021) seem like a stopover between two- and three-dimensionality. Whether planar or spatial, his works are polyfocal. Multi-layered in structure, their individual parts come together to form a large whole.
This is also evident, for example, in the artist's colour palette: it is gaudy and bright, almost shimmering - and at times artificial - an impression supported by the superficial visual effects of acrylic and lacquer paints, which alternate between the glossy and the matte for a harmonious interaction of apparent opposites.
Just like in music! Harpes is inspired by Jazz, the interleaving of notes to create harmony - an idea which manifests visually in the piece Akkord D7 (2021). At the beginning, it seems, the relationships on the canvas are somewhat unclear. There is a simultaneity of linework and surface. In a supposedly arbitrarily manner, the artist alternates between these dimensions. Where is inside and outside, where the beginning and where the end? This infinity in the piece brings with it great freedom: Harpes does not limit himself to merely reproducing what he has seen. Instead, he brings all his impressions to the canvas - a view of the sun-drenched hum of the street, an elongated railing, a hill, an emotion.
Everything is visible there, every sensation allowed - and represented. It's a dynamic also found in theatre or performance art, one that expresses itself strongly through movement, and which has fascinated the artist since early childhood. Although Harpes rarely makes biographical references, places from his youth appear again and again in these works, for example in Behind the Shelf, where a cabinet becomes the focus of investigation. The artist depicts it simultaneously from the inside and the outside, as if the viewers could look through walls and doors. In Monster's room (2021), one can even recognise figures. Subtly, themes such as loneliness, farewell, and memories come to the fore.
The predominant feeling when viewing the works remains one of being overwhelmed, by the simultaneity of perspectives, the spatial nowhere and everywhere. But the dissection of the objects turns an initial disorientation into a blissful distraction. Only when you get involved in the flood of sensory impressions do all the noise, and the silence, all the memories that unite these images, step closer to you. The result: a continuously intriguing interweaving and combination of views, a deep dive into Thierry Harpes' emotional and environmental surroundings."
Text Julia Meyer-Brehm (Monopol), Translation by Jim SchumacherDownload artist'CV