Francisco Corbett is pairing up with friend and housemate Alan Harman for an art show that infuses chaotic good with irony at Hoopla Press & Gallery on Oct. 26. Their close friend Maggie Whitmore is managing curation and space layout.
Corbett’s legacy as a Kingston artist has grown immensely in the last two years. His blossoming friendship with Harman—a musician and graphic designer—has opened new avenues from him to explore paint as an artistic outlet.
Harman is relatively new to Kingston compared to his gallery partner, who has lived in the Limestone City his whole life.
“I had a very large life change happen where I had to move out of my hometown, so I moved [to Kingston] with 19 cents in my bank account, two and a half hours from home, and didn’t know anybody,” Harman said in an interview with The Journal.
Harman reminisced about how easily he connected with Corbett once they met.
“I was only up here for a week when I met Francisco. A really close friend of mine had gone to ForeWorld Summer Camp last year and I was aware that he was the art guy around here.”
Corbett describes Harman’s work as ironic and silly but said it matures as you look at it and understand it beneath the surface level.
“The process of [the paintings is] what gives it its flair—the intricate design layout and colour blocking—it’s really good but I almost don’t want it to be good because it’s [for example] a green block and a Marlboro pack.”
Harman describes Corbett as a performer at heart: “watching him paint is very much like an act, it’s like ballet for someone who can’t do ballet.”
When the two artists decided to do the show, Corbett went from being stagnant in his artistic work to a nine-day period in which he created a painting every day.
“What’s important when physically doing a painting is I don’t think about how this is going to look in the show, I just do it,” he said in an interview with The Journal.
Once his paintings are created, Corbett then takes a step back to think about whether they could have a place in a show.
“That’s the case with a lot of my work because of COVID,” he explained.
“I didn’t have the chance to show any of the hundreds of paintings I have in the studio, so in this case it’s nice to choose eight or nine paintings that have been made through the joy of creation and now will be shown.”
Harman first picked up a paintbrush just two weeks prior to the interview. Though he usually expresses himself artistically through graphic design and music, Corbett says he’s a natural.
“It’s really funny because [he] talks more in depth about a painting and actual paint and technique than I ever have,” Corbett said. “It’s like [he’s] been painting forever even though [he’s] a noob.”
Harman’s process of translating his design work to canvas was both exciting and new for him—he spent time taking notes and studying before ever taking brush to blank space.
“When it comes to art, my favourite works are very contemporary and kind of goofy but at the same time there’s heart in it,” Harman said.
“I was drawing a vase every single day thinking that I was going to have these vases as a subject and then realized I’m sick and tired of drawing vases.”
Harman moved on to what he enjoys most and does best: irony.
His music often explores the seriousness of life, but he said he finds himself being able to joke and experiment when it comes to painting.
The poster for the show—bright yellow with a circus tent as the central drawing—along with the title —Close to My Heart (Near & Dear)—is meant to symbolize the natural comedic timing of life and the comedic energy of Harman’s and Corbett’s work.
Corbett is looking forward to having Maggie Whitmore do curation.
“We’re really excited to see how [Whitmore] will use the space as a positive addition to our work,” he said. “We want people focusing on the painting but also how the space was made and how that itself is also art.”
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