The sublimities of John Harris


I might never have paid much attention to John Harris’s paintings if they hadn’t appeared so often at Adam Rowe’s 70s Sci-fi Art. Harris is also featured in Rowe’s new book, Worlds Beyond Time, with a few examples that sent me looking for more. I like science-fiction art when it’s dealing with megastructures, especially if those structures aren’t readily interpretable as buildings, spaceships or alien artefacts. This is SF art in the service of the philosophical Sublime, a quality which, since the 1940s, you don’t find very much in painting outside the work of illustrators or artists of the fantastic. Some of these structures, like the one that Harris calls “The Wall” (below), might be relatives of the abandoned concrete edifices in Jean-Pierre Ugarte’s paintings. Another point in Harris’s favour is the way he uses SF-like imagery as outlets for his own visionary experiences: there’s a series entitled Mass which depicts images that came to him following a period of transcendental meditation. The Mass series later gave a title to the first book of Harris’s art which was published by Paper Tiger in 2000.

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4 thoughts on “The sublimities of John Harris”

  1. Incredible artist! He also did the cover for the ZX81 programming manual, which led to somewhat unrealistic expectations of the computer’s graphical capability.

  2. Yes, Adam Rowe’s note about Harris mentions the ZX81 manual. I don’t recall seeing that one at the time, I learned Sinclair BASIC from a different manual with nothing interesting on the cover.

  3. Totally different in subject matter, but the vet we take our dog too has several huge paintings of animals by John Harris on its walls. He lives nearby and presumably likes animals!

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