“Anything done more than a week ago I’m embarrassed about. You think you can get it right, but you never get it right. No one’s got it right. Who got it right?” – Harry Ally
Harry Paul Ally paints with dry pigments, acrylics, tar, fabrics, oils, bonding agents, and different clays dug from the Georgia soil – “From these materials the figurative images are unearthed,” Ally states.
Harry, 2007, Charcoal, pastel, acrylic on paper, 28 x 22 in
Painting is the primal impulse to mark. It’s a visual record of the mind, the body, and the human spirit. For me there’s an urgency to both create and destroy. Maybe it’s out of sheer frustration that I work. Maybe it’s just to satisfy a need to violate or to contradict. I’m not sure. There is a strong feeling though and I feel compelled to communicate this feeling.
Concerning content and meaning in my art, I’m never quite sure. The work seems to be layered with different meanings. It primarily deals with vulnerability, fragility, and submission. It conjures up past images and emotions… feelings about the church, about nuns, relationships with my mother, with my wife, and other persons both male and female that all seem to play a part of each painting. And then there’s the surface, the physical quality of the work that eludes to decay, to violation, and to vulnerability.
Liar, 2008, Mixed Media on Panel, 24 x 24 in.
The surfaces of the paintings are like excavations, surfaces layered with a variety of materials… dry pigments, acrylics, tar, fabrics, oils, bonding agents, along with different clays dug from the Georgia soil. From these materials figurative images are unearthed. Their surfaces reveal the painting’s history, its process, and provide actual depth, both physically through build up and layering as well as emotional depth with destructive scarring.
Figure #75, 2007, mixed media on canvas, 72 x 72 in.
The works are an existential search for an abstract presence, an intuitive search into the unknown, a search for truth revealed through distortion and through exaggeration. I feel connected to the past, to a timeless tradition in art that has always been a primary concern of man…the expression of existence. It’s innate. It’s primal. It’s been there since the beginning and I too have become part of this search for meaning and identity through the creative process of art making.
Harry Ally in his studio
“You don’t want to make a face on a person, then it becomes specific, not universal.”
“I don’t want to put clothes on a figure, and not make him all vulnerable, man.”
“Every painting is a failure but it gives me a little ray of hope to try on the next one.”