Untitled (Judith) No. 8
1979, 1195 x 1780mm, Oil on board
Jeffrey Harris was born in Akaroa and grew up on his parents’ farm on Banks Peninsula. He worked as a shop assistant in Ōtautahi for three years. In 1970, he moved to Ōtepoti, where the Otago Museum foyer had given him his first solo show the previous year, and began to paint full-time. A self-taught artist, he has learned much from the paintings of others, Albrecht Dürer, Edvard Munch, and Emil Nolde in particular.
Harris has exhibited widely. In 1982, he was one of three artists to represent Aotearoa at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh; in 1985, he exhibited in New York with the group show NZ/NY; from 1984 to 1985, his paintings toured Aotearoa in the group show Anxious Images. He was the Frances Hodgkins Fellow in 1977 and was artist in residence at Victoria College, Melbourne, in 1986.
Harris has lived in Ōtepoti for most of his career. His works are for the most part concerned with suffering and anxiety in personal relationships. Frequently his drawing style distorts the figure in the interests of representing pain. He fragments objects to create metaphors for dissociation and uses simple symbols to permit ready identification.