Richard Harrison (painter)

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Richard Harrison (born 2 October 1954) is an English painter.


Richard Harrison was born on 2 October 1954, in Mill Road Hospital, Liverpool, England to an unmarried mother from Whitby, Yorkshire, and was adopted at twenty days old by a comfortable upper-middle-class mercantile family from Liverpool. He was educated at Aysgarth Preparatory School in North Yorkshire (1963–68), and then at Harrow Public School in North West London (1968–72). In 1973, he travelled down the West African coast from Dakar in Senegal to Douala in Cameroon as cadet purser on the Merchant Navy vessel MV Dalla. In September 1973, he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied Mediaeval History, graduating in 1976. From 1981–1983, he studied furniture design at the London College of Furniture and in 1984 went to Chelsea School of Art, where he completed a BA degree in Fine Art in 1987 and an MA degree in Fine Art, Painting in 1988.[1]


The paintings in Harrison's BA degree show at Chelsea School of Art in June 1987 were noted for their apocalyptic presence and rich and varied paint handling.[2]

In August 1987, Harrison was selected by the London Evening Standard's art critic Brian Sewell for “Young Masters”, an exhibition sponsored by the Daily Mail On Sunday “You Magazine”, at the Solomon Gallery, London.[3] Harrison's contribution consisted of figures engaged in titanic struggle and landscapes in immense flux.[4]

At his first solo show in 1990 at the Berkeley Square Gallery in London's Mayfair, Sewell said that Goya, Rembrandt and Delacroix might recognise him as in some sense their heir.[5] In 1993, Harrison's next solo show was at Jill George Gallery in London's Soho, and he then had solo shows at Albemarle Gallery In London's Mayfair in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016. The landscape paintings in the 2006 Albemarle Gallery show were likened to a Götterdämmerung, and The Horsemen in the same show were said by Sewell to be the product of a darkly mediaeval imagination.[6]

In 2010, Harrison was selected for the John Moores Painting Prize Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.[7][8] In 2011 he had exhibitions at Dea Orh Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic and at Chenshia Museum in Wuhan, the first exhibition by a British artist in a private museum in The People's Republic of China.

On 22 January 2009 his monumental crucifixion triptych “At The End … A Beginning” was installed and consecrated in the ambulatory behind the high altar in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

A second crucifixion, “Golgotha”, hangs in London's oldest parish church, The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew The Great near Smithfield Market.

Style and influences[edit]

Harrison's paintings fall into two distinct areas of endeavour ; landscape painting and figurative painting. The landscapes depict the power and violence of natural forces, and the figurative works explore the dark and emotive subjects of Armageddon and Death.[9] His early work, whilst a student at London's Chelsea School of Art from 1984-88, was essentially abstract, and abstract values have formed the armature of all of his later work.

In 1985, Harrison was deeply impressed by Francis Bacon's Retrospective Exhibition at London's Tate Gallery ; Temptation and the constant struggle between Good and Evil that Harrison saw in Bacon's work have remained important and abiding themes for him ever since.[10] Subsequently Harrison moved from a convincing interest in the texture and manipulative qualities of the simple materials of a painting to biblical and mythical narratives that were common among European painters from the High Renaissance to the High Olympus of Victorian art.

Many of the paintings in the series of exhibitions at Albemarle Gallery from 2002 to 2016 have centred around such themes, in particular the biblical vision of St. John The Divine of The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, and the Greek myth surrounding the figure of Andromeda. At a time when it has been said that figurative painting has long been out of fashion in British art schools and among the curators of the nation's galleries of modern art, Harrison has been one of the very few younger contemporary artists to hold to this ancestral tradition. Recently, Harrison has been said by Sewell to be a visionary prophet, his paintings big, bold, beautiful and threatening.[11]


  1. ^ Sewell, Brian (2010). Nothing Wasted : The paintings of Richard Harrison. London: Philip Wilson Fine Art Publishers. pp. 7–31. ISBN 978-0-85667-683-3.
  2. ^ Sarah Jane Checkland, 'Where’s our next Hockney coming from ?' in London Daily News(London newspaper), 26 June 1987
  3. ^ Brian Sewell,'Young Masters' in Daily Mail on Sunday You Magazine (London newspaper),16 August 1987
  4. ^ Brian Sewell,Young Masters (London: Solomon Gallery 1987)
  5. ^ Brian Sewell,'Art' in London Evening Standard (London newspaper),1 March 1990
  6. ^ Brian Sewell,'Saved from drowning in the sea of postmodernism' in London Evening Standard (London newspaper), 3 February 2006
  7. ^ Laura Davis, 'Proud to exhibit our work in our home city' in Liverpool Daily Post (Liverpool newspaper), 20 August 2010
  8. ^ John Moores Painting Prize 2010 (Liverpool: Walker Art Gallery) pp.78-79
  9. ^ Kate Bernard,'Saviour Yourself' in Tatler Magazine, March 2004, volume 299,n.3
  10. ^ Emily Porter-Salmon, 'Richard Harrison: Nothing Wasted' in Art of England Magazine, March 2010, issue 67
  11. ^ Brian Sewell Richard Harrison : Paintings (Los Angeles, USA: Jay Whitney Brown Fine Art at CB1 Gallery Guest Space, 2015)

Further reading[edit]

  • Brian Sewell, Nothing Wasted : The Paintings of Richard Harrison (London: Philip Wilson Fine Art Publishers, 2010)

External links[edit]