Monday, April 26, 2010

Harry Kent paintings of Egon Schiele

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele, Harlequin, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 45 cm

Today i'm revisiting some of my Egon Schiele paintings from a couple of years back.

Schiele painted hands, was obsessed by hands. Those nobly tendrils he drew were not a stylistic affectation he acquired from Klimt - his fingers really were prehensile. Looking at period photos of Egon, a motif soon suggested itself for me - the languid eyelid (his confident seeing, his sensuous nature), the probing finger (grasping charcoal, poking where it shouldn't), his sullen lip (the James Dean of his age with perpetual adolescent  'attitude').

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele I, oil and chalk on paper, 40 x 50 cm

Schiele seemed to me to be a mix of genius and paedophile selling smut to fat Viennese businessmen for their porn collections.  I wanted to explore this dark side of the man, yet also celebrate the beauty he created.

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele II, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

I then searched for an image that might suggest instability, inner conflict, neurosis, depravity even. And so worked freely with Selley's No More Gaps (a water-soluble gap filler) and acrylic paints.

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele III, gap-filler and acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

UPDATE (15-4-11):   The work above now appears on the front cover of a Korean edition of the novel  The Case Worker  by renowned Hungarian author Konrád György (George Kondrad).

Read the background details HERE.

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele IV, gap-filler and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 50 cm

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele V, gap-filler and acrylic on paper, 35 x 50 cm


But Egon lived and worked in Vienna where he produced stunningly beautiful drawings. The influence of Klimt is quite visible, especially in Schiele's early work. As part of the Austrian Seccessionist movement he retained a Viennese decorative element absent from German Expressionism. And so i wanted to represent Schiele as part of the urbane art scene with a good hint of the decadent hypocritical Viennese Belle Epoque of 1910. And so i produced this Egon Schiele Blue Triptych (they were exhibited and sold as a set side-by-side).

 Not quite visible in the poor photos is the texture of the classical wallpapers, with their metallic burnish, that i used for geometric collaged elements. And try as i might i could not photograph them without reflections off the heavily varnished gloss surface (i wanted them to have the glow of an enamelled icon). So there are spurious 'lines' that are actually reflections off the textured gloss surface.

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele VI, oil on and collage on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele VII, oil and collage on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele VIII, oil and collage on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele in the Belle Époque, oil on canvas, 60 x 90 cm

and finally ... the beginning.

This was actually my first study, in which i tried to work out motifs. I had the idea of Egon as the Knave and therefore drew him as the Jack playing card. There is a fainter upside-down image of him(Egon was a bit upside down) in the bottom right. But the drooping lid, the sullen lip, the tendril fingers are all here from the outset.

Harry Kent, Egon Schiele, Knave, charcoal and acrylic on paper, 60 x 90 cm


  1. Harry. I can hear you loud and clear. Greet the penguins from me.
    Thank you very much for your kind comment.
    I love your work, it have a great expressive power.
    A pleasure your visit. I'm staying here. A huge hug. And excuse my bad English.

  2. your english is great ... so glad you came by ... thanks for the generous comments, Lozzano

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog, Harry.

    It's exciting to come here and see your work, both the portraits and your thoughts about the struggle to produce them.

    Judging from your profile you and I share the odd thing in common - Australia, psychology and the academy, though my interest is in literature and yours in art. You write so beautifully I suspect literature and writing might also be loves of yours.

    I find the long fingers and the languid eyelids in your self portraits deeply satisfying.

    i wonder, did you come to my blog by chance because I posted a written self portrait, see:

    It was a bitter sweet exercise almost as torturous as the one you describe here, but not quite as painful I suspect.

    It's terrific to meet you here, and I look forward to visiting again.

  4. Another thought, Harry

    You might be interested in Angela Simione's blog at Blackland.


    She too writes and paints and describes in vivid detail her struggles. Hers is an idiosyncratic approach and she's much younger than you and me but her sensibility has such an appeal.

  5. thank you Elizabeth for your very kind worsd of encouragement. Yes, as i was reading in your blog I felt we might hold some things in common. Though I decided to confess my academic connections in my profile at the outset and just throw myself on the kindness of strangers for forgiveness.

    I found your blog through Inkpunk's blog. Being still in my first month of blogging, I thought the fastest way to find blogs of interest would be to rifle through the blog-links of interesting blogs. I landed on yours, discovered your interest in all things autobiographical, had an enjoyable read, and the rest is history.

    Thank you for Angela's blog ... i am now a devoted follower.

    so thanks so much for coming by. Do come by again, and perhaps check out my postings on Sylvia Plath, mirrors and self-concept - they bear tangentally on autobiography.

    warm wishes, h

  6. Hello, Harry. Thank you for visiting my blog.
    Although not my style, I think your paintings are strong. I like the thoughts they suggest you, the motivations behind them. I'll visit your blog regularly.

  7. thank you for you kind comments, Manel. I very much enjoyed looking at your work, classical skills, done with great loving care. You have painted the soul of an apple. I too will return to your blog again and again to enjoy and to learn.

  8. Harry,

    I'm glad that I have found my way here. I am attracted on many levels - your influence, your technique, the depth, the darkness and the story surrounding it all. I look forward to following your journey. Thanks for letting me into your studio!

  9. thank you so much so much for dropping by, for your encouraging words, and for taking the interest to follow my blog.

  10. this is a good sequence of works .
    i really liked the second photo . this painting has a clear resolution , but not less intence .

  11. thanks you, Caio ... yes, that one is closest to expressive painting ... though the only paint strokes i am satisfied with is the left hand, made with economy and conviction

  12. What for a force this painting! Il love it so much, thank you for let me descovered you blog, I really love your art

  13. thank you nouvelle couleurs for your very encouraging comments ... your work is so full life, vitality, and expressive power that i am particularly flattered you found mine of interest ... welcome by any time

  14. Oh yes the hands. :-) I love your paintings all.

  15. thanks, Moma. Yes, weren't those nobbly knuckles so characteristic of his work, but so like his actual hands in his photos!

  16. Maravillosa entrada, gracias nos enseñas nueva maneras de encarar el arte, escapando del aburrimiento ooooooooooooooo

  17. just thought i'd comment on this post because i thought all of it--writing, art, all--was very beautiful. i especially liked the egon schiele iv, though the whole series is awesome (start out with a francis bacon feel and then devolve/evolve--so cool! though i guess you could say that anything that has a "damned portrait" feel to it is francis baconesque...)

    1. What a lovely comment, sra! Thanks so. Just when my slough was full of despond you give me this lift. You'll never know how timely.

      And ive been enjoying your writing and your wit.

      warm greetz, h.