Keith Harder’s exhibition, From Perception to Insight, is a survey of his career including paintings from the 1980s to now. The Calgary iteration of the show will also feature Gravitas: Inside Out, an interactive and immersive experience that allows viewers to virtually explore Harder’s land installation Gravitas.
Keith Harder was introduced to acrylic and oil painting in the Three Hills High School art program taught by his father. Painting became the central feature of his education through several degrees and then in a 36 year career as a university Professor of Studio Art.
Early in his formative development he was mentored at the University of Calgary by the realist painter John Hall. The formal side of his painting practice was influenced later by abstract painters, Doug Haynes and Phil Darrah at the University of Alberta. Studying other paintings by artists such as Rackstraw Downes, John Salt, and Antonio Lopez Garcia also contributed to Harder’s methods and thought. Eventually he was inspired by Canadian artist Jack Chambers to investigate the numinous quality of the external visual experience and, similarly, chose a descriptive approach as a painting methodology for his investigations.
In the early years of his practice, a faithfulness to observation dominated his approach. By paying close attention to describing appearances he hoped to reveal moments of import. Initially photographic sources were used but later direct observation was included in certain projects.
The descriptive methodology was applied to a variety of subjects and genres, including landscape, still life, and portraiture. Later in his career, narrative features and elements of interpretation and invention were added into this body of work. The current exhibition samples an array of these approaches.
While there have been a variety of investigations over the course of Harder’s career, it is possible to detect a particular interest threading through the last four decades of his production. This interest can be traced through the intermittent imagery of weather, sky, and flight. Such images lend themselves to the consideration of themes that could range from joy, to struggle, to threat, and to loss. In addition to such content, many paintings invoke a deep sense of being in place, and in time.
Thematic contents get developed within the arena of thought known as hermeneutics, as they seek to winkle out, understand and interpret the nature of the numinous that are encountered in the experience of being. Taking the form of visual experiments, the paintings are concentrated attempts to detect and reveal the pulse of meaning within the daily rush and grind of living. Metaphor and allusion come into play in the choices of subject, staging, and the quality of light. These are the means by which something greater might arise than merely the sum of parts.
As a member of My Loch Gallery you can set up a collector profile, save artworks and be notified of new work by your favourite atists, access to our newsletter, and more.