Oil and graphite on plywood.
23″ x 27″
(b. 1969) Harry Underwood is a poet and a painter, a dreamer and a realist. A former housepainter and construction worker, Harry creates surrealist dreamscapes and invented memories with latex paint and varnish on wood. His subjects are an eclectic mix of realism, surrealism, pop art, and invention, painted with almost-forgotten postcard imagery in the style of a sign painter, but infused with romanticism and an undercurrent of nostalgia for a life not necessarily experienced, but wished for. Repeated images flesh out his work; bathing beauties, motel pools, vintage cars, commercial signs, palm trees, old bicycles, dancing couples. There is a sense of mid-twentieth century Americana in his works which evokes nostalgia or longing for the vacation one never got to take, or the life one might have lived in the past, with touches of irony and commercialization that relate to the present. Harry was born in Miami in 1969 and raised in Homestead, Florida. With no formal training as an artist, Harry’s style is his own invention. There is no indication that he studied artistic traditional techniques, but his work reminds one of Henry Darger, Edward Hopper and a bit of mid-century Pop Art. His careful selections of color came from his exposure to house paint, and he originally used only four or five shades, gradually expanding his color palette as his works evolved. His technique involves using cutout templates for his reoccurring images, and often incising text in and around the composition. The works grab the viewer from afar with large scale imagery, and then draw one in with smaller figures and text, almost like advertising technique. Indeed, Harry has said of himself, “I’m just a really complicated sign painter.”