HARLAND MILLER "WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING" SILKSCREEN, 2014
Born in Yorkshire, England in 1964, Harland Miller is a critically acclaimed writer and artist. Books are central to Miller's practice in both endeavours. His best known works reimagine vintage Penguin book covers with satirical titles of his own creation.
After exhibiting art throughout the 80's and 90's, Miller released his first novel Slow Down Arthur, Stick to Thirty in 2000 to critical acclaim. One year later he began an artistic endeavour to marry his love of words with his painting practice.
Appropriating Penguin publishing house's logo, Miller painted a series of art works featuring vintage Penguin book covers paired with his own ironic titles. These works follow in the tradition of text-based artists like Ed Ruscha, exploring the place of text in visual art. Miller's work employs humour, irony, and human nature through the complexities and union of painting and written word.
Using color and controlled brushstrokes, Miller seamlessly translates the character of a worn vintage book into his artworks. While these strokes may appear to follow their source material exactly, Miller often imbues his compositions with sociopolitical critiques. He invents narratives for the books themselves deciding how and where they're worn, weathered - or pristine.
His art recognizes books as objects with narratives themselves, inhabiting a space outside of the stories or information they are designed to share. The ambiguous titles he creates are left open to interpretation, but often comment on humanity or feature sly comedy.
Miller's more recent body of work further explores the marriage of painting, human nature, humour, and narrative with paintings referencing the covers of vintage self-help books from the 60's and 70's. The darker aspects of humanity these self-helps books sought to address was often camouflaged by their cover's bold and vibrantly colored abstract motifs. At the time of their publication, these covers reflected the popular aesthetic of contemporary abstract painting, which Miller delightfully revives and pairs with his satirical titles. Though still sardonic in nature, these titles take on a more sinister undertone promising advice and guidance to those in need.
"Wherever You Are, Whatever You're Doing, This One's For You" is a quintessential example of Miller's work from this series, and his overall signature aesthetic. A fuchsia rectangle vibrantly floats above a gestural black & white motif with splatters of fuchsia.
The title promises the viewer that this book holds the key to anyone seeking answers, for...anything. Miller's final signature, Penguin Plays, runs along the top of the book cover in ironic cinema-style lightbulbs. Self-help has never looked so colorful, promising, and easy.
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"Wherever You Are Whatever You're Doing This One's For You"
15 color silkscreen print on Somerset Tub Sized 410 gsm paper
Edition of 50, signed and numbered
55"H 43.25"W (work)
58.5"H 48.5"W (framed)
Note: this work is sold unframed outside the Toronto-Montreal-New-York triangle
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