Technicolor Noir with T.S. Harris

  • Jul 29, 2018
  • Posted by eisenhauer
Technicolor Noir with T.S. Harris

Tracy Sylvester Harris’s distinctive style is best described as technicolor noir. Born to two Las Vegas artists, T.S. Harris was reared in an environment that enabled her to hone her skills from a young age.  She now lives in San Luis Obispo, California. Her work draws from Western culture and is reminiscent Golden age Hollywood, Film Noir, and is heavily focused on the female form and mid-summer scenes.

    Harris’s paintings almost exclusively feature the female form. However, she rejects the idea of baseless sex symbols for the more nuanced tropes of the femme fatale or socialites who present themselves as women of mystery, social connection, and wisdom. This is further accentuated by her choice to leave the faces of the women concealed, thus heightening the sense of mystery and compelling the viewer to ask who is this woman before me? What secrets does she know? 

    A connection to water--specifically pools--is the other main feature of Harris’s paintings. Her childhood in Las Vegas often featured pools as a necessary respite from the sweltering desert heat. Just as pools are an essential feature to Las Vegas, they are too an essential feature in her paintings. The water serves two functions: The first is that it is visually relaxing. It brings a sense of warm, lazy days relaxing by a bright, turquoise jewel. The second is that it contrasts the female figures both visually and subjectively. The textured reds, yellows, and blues of swimsuits pop against the smooth aquamarine of the water. The figures become strong focal points that command the attention of the viewer and punctuate the room in which they reside. 

    The second contrast comes from the emotional background of a pool versus a femme fatale. The relaxed, transparent nature of a pool is worlds away from the intense noir figures that populate the setting. The figures are a serious presence by the most casual scenery—a pool. This internal struggle only heightens the compelling nature of the painting. As a viewer, which do you choose? To relax in the pool? Or to converse with the woman?  T.S. Harris’s masterfully tells a whole story in one frame and leaves the viewer to wonder what the prologue and epilogue of that story may be. 

T.S. Harris will be presenting her work, alongside Jylian Gustlin and Stephanie Danforth, at the Eisenhauer gallery on August Ninth. This group show will feature a range of figurative and abstract works put together into a wonderfully exciting collection called Curve. Please come in and see her wonderful pieces in person!

By Alyk Russell Kenlan

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