Stephen Harwood‘s paintings – It’s Art baby, Art!
I first met Stephen Harwood about 15 years ago at a Publish & Be Damned Zine Fair in Arnold Circus, and immediately fell in love with his work. At that time, I was producing an art zine for which he created a series of mixed media portraits of what could be described as ‘Boys in the Hood’, combining photography, painting and text. The resulting works were full of energy, darkness and drama, depicting a sense of foreboding that somehow sat comfortably in tandem with the vulnerability of youth.
A long-time resident of Hackney, Stephen’s work largely focuses on exploring a sense of place, chronicling the changing face of the East End through painting, drawing, film and curatorial projects. His landscape paintings are at once immediately recognisable, with furious skies capturing the energy of Hackney Wick alongside an attention to detail that always astounds me.
As he says, “I engage with such locations through a process of reimagining. In this way, my paintings, drawings and films become an interpretative mirror or filter: an investigation of place that aims for a shared (historical) vantage point.”
His recent portraits of teenage boys have a painterly quality that conveys the vulnerability and fury of adolescence with a knowingness that is haunting.
“There is a figurative element, too, when the location demands it. Adolescent males are invoked, and situated centre-stage; becoming the spirit of place, or genius loci, in the midst of their own developmental becoming.”
To me, the wonderful thing about art, and painting in particular, is that it treads a line between reality and fiction, bringing something else entirely to the table, and Stephen’s work does that in spades.
See more of Stephen’s work: stephenharwood.co.uk
Images courtesy of the artist