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Marie Harnett: Still

22 Nov 2017 - 6 Jan 2018


A major exhibition of new works by British artist Marie Harnett (b. 1983), celebrating fleeting moments of drama, beauty and sus­pense from contemporary film, will go on show at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London, from 22 November 2017 to 6 January 2018. Still includes several new series of drawings and prints by Harnett who is known for her highly detailed, meticulous drawings, derived from film stills.

Harnett comments, “My interest lies in transforming a digital split second and slowly making it a tangible. By removing colour and taking the still out of its narrative context, I am able to assign the image its own autonomy. Exploring these intricate details allows me to become completely absorbed in the process.

Harnett’s skilful draughtsmanship and attention to detail leads to instant recognition of familiar cinema stars. These new works include portraits of Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, Michael Fassbender, and Henry Cavill amongst many others. Harnett’s process requires her to watch film trailers online without sound or colour, frame by frame, until she finds inspiration. Harnett undermines cinematic process, reverting back to storyboards and the merest hint of plot in a film that she will probably never have watched in its entirety. By removing the stills from their context and reworking them as intricate pencil studies, Harnett focuses on every aspect of pose, light and texture.

This exhibition expands on the scale and techniques Harnett has developed since her first solo exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery in 2011. Still includes several drawings, which depict minute details, such as a ribbon, a bow, or a hand. Each drawing is no bigger than a postage stamp. These will be shown alongside her biggest drawing to date, a scene from the film Carol (2015) meas­uring 116 x 206 cm. Harnett often selects only a few scenes from the 200 to 400 images she has saved per trailer. This multitude of source material has allowed Harnett to develop a new series of overlap drawings, where she takes two stills and superimposes one on top of the other. She interrupts the narrative, creating a unique image that takes on its own life and a new story.

Still will also include Harnett’s first ever linocuts, which have been inspired by a 16th-century engraving, a depiction of Chirst, by Claude Mellan, that was formed almost entirely from a single line spiralling out from the centre of Christ’s face. Harnett’s linocuts, which can take up to one month to carve, are large scale images built up from black and white curving lines, and depict scenes from American Hustle (2013), Slow West (2015), and Brideshead Revisited (2008).

A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by writer and broadcast­er Charlotte Mullins will accompany the exhibition.

Images: From Heleno, 2013

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