September 17, 2008

In Harms' way

Old painting pal Sadko Hadzihasanovic and I once decided that a painter can have good paint-handling and bad drawing, or good drawing and bad paint-handling, but bad drawing and bad paint-handling is a formula for, well, truly bad painting. Bendix Harms, in his second solo show at Anton Kerns, wants to prove otherwise. Despite Harms' stunningly bad drawing and impulsive, reckless paint-handling, his work manages to muster a memorable exuberance. The studied insouciance and sentimental imagery might suggest humble intent, but the monumental scale begs for attention, like a child who insists on doing cartwheels in the livingroom. According to the Kerns press release, Harms, who completes each painting in one session with no later revisions, wants to unveil the "emotional bare skin while elevating it to a universal level where the viewer's subjective response to his psychological nakedness stimulates feelings of liberation, and even shame."

Harms studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HfBK), Hamburg. His work has been exhibited at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (2007), the Prague Biennial (2005), the Tirana Biennale (2001), and in gallery shows in Munich, Copenhagen, Madrid, Hamburg, and Cologne. He lives and works in Hamburg, Germany.

"Bendix Harms: Lebenslieben," Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY. Through Oct. 4.

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