Tim Harriss is a master of pop culture painting with a twist. His whimsical interpretations of Old Master paintings launched his career and led him into more of the pulp novel and dime store dramatics genre. The result is work that is accessible, humorous and well painted but also with an edge which makes it sophisticated and interesting. Familiar on the one hand yet curiosuly engaging and unusual on the other.
He is a painter who creates imagery that freely references from a number of sources, such as Renaissance art, pulp fiction cover illustrations, and contemporary pop culture stylings. From all of this, Harriss creates imagery that is often squarely in line with the tradition of The Grotesque. His subjects are typically portraits. Sometimes these are clearly of actual people, and at other times seem to be more allegorical, but in a cryptic and personal way that lends itself less to a direct translation.
Although Harriss himself isn't likely to bring it up, painting is actually the second phase of his creative career. In the earlier part, Tim was focused on being a musician, playing guitar in punk bands, most notably the band Kepone. Although at first this seems like just something trivial that gives Harriss a cultural identity (but again, you will have to press him hard before he tells you about his collaborations with Jello Biafra, H.R., and Eekamouse), but it bears mentioning for another reason: There is a common conception that punk rock music eschews technical ability as something that limits raw creativity. However, as a punk musician in what I will refer to as the "Post Band Brains" latter-day punk scene, Harriss was one of many musicians who valued technical skill as a tool of creativity. To Tim Harriss, the essence of punk music was expression, and rather than denounce the popular music that came before, it all became fair game to be mixed into his own musical landscape.
As a painter, Harriss employs the same creative method. Not one to be tied to any single art movement, Harriss looks at other painting as something to be learned from, and then mixed into his own compositions, but in his own way. And, as with his music, Tim employs impeccable technique to blend styles and imagery that spans over centuries of painterly tradition into his own artistic vision.