Facing The Facts: I’ll See You On The Flip Side

Brazilian-born Harding Meyer is not merely an artist working in Karlsruhe that paints larger than life portraits. He also paints the transition of an end to the start of something new and beautiful; the perfect time for me to speak with him as summer comes to a close and the new season takes reign. It’s grey now in Berlin and, once again, we have to face the annual inevitability of autumn like a falling glass denying gravity. Busy with preparations for the upcoming Preview Berlin Art Fair and trusting he’d be able to express himself better in words, Meyer suggested establishing e-mail correspondence. After agreeing and waiting for his responses, I began to wonder what was – living through so many seasonal and personal transitions in life – the nature of the unforgettable; those things that we know we’ll never forget, despite any chances life may bring us. Unwittingly, Harding Meyer’s responses would provide some clarity.​

The Face Of The Unforgettable

APs: Where do you believe that the eyes lead to?

Harding Meyer: Maybe the door to a dialogue. Eyes are communicative without using words—like a good piece of art.

(9-2013) oil on canvas 180x250cm. Photo courtesy of Harding Meyer

APs: All of your work is on a large scale; was it a conscious decision to make it this large or did it develop naturally? 

HM: I was seventeen or eighteen when I started with large-scale paintings. In the eighties many artists painted large paintings, which simply impressed me. I have not stopped since then and have fun doing it…but I must add that I have always made small works too; mostly I don’t show them.

(17-2012), oil on canvas,190x260cm. Photo courtesy of Jarmuschek + Partner Gallery

APs: You distort some faces and create others with unnatural colors; others simply are portraits – is this you artistic exploration or is it a statement?

HM: I only paint faces. There are many ways to do that and I vary my paintings as I want. Sometimes it is the form that I am changing, then the colors, the material… all the things a painter is interested in. Through the years this results in an exploration of painting faces- that’s my statement.

(15-2012), oil on canvas,150x190cm. Photo courtesy of Jarmuschek + Partner Gallery

APs: Is there a face you would never paint?

HM: I do not want to paint faces that are immediately identified by everyone. ( I.e.The Pope, Lady Gaga, Elvis)

To Love & To Lose

We know that a pet to an artist is more than just that, having spoken to their owners in our past series “Like Artist Like Animal” — for Meyer, it was no different.

APs: I understand you have lost your beloved dog recently. It pains me to hear this as I have a older golden retriever at home who I have to say goodbye to every time I leave for travel. What were some of the best moments you shared with your dog? 

HM: Everyday life with my dog. She was a studio dog, a family dog, a guard dog and the best dog in the world.

Is this the face Meyer will never forget? Photo: courtesy of the artist.

APs: Is there a face you will never forget? 

HM: The face of a Kurdish girl that I painted twelve years ago. She died by a poison gas attack. (The artist did not provide further information about where or who this girl was, only that she has remained unforgettable).

There it is, the missing face: artist Harding Meyer. Photo courtesy of the artist

Though I never got to meet Harding Meyer, I hope the day will come when we cross paths, get to look at each other’s face and say, “Hey, nice to meet you – I thought you’d be taller.” But until that day comes, the only face I will know from him are the ones he has painted for us; their larger than life eyes looking with mine at the fall of summer and the change into new beginnings. 

Harding Meyer [Price range of works: 5,500 – 14,500 Euros]

Article by Tristan Boisvert