Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Neal Harrington's Bootlegger Quest

Ahhhh, here's an original print voice, my inked up friends. Neal Harrington's Bootlegger series harkens back to the days of miraculous and divine inspiration. There is a little Rockwell Kent, mixed with a lot of William Blake, and quite a bit of imagery inspired by the effects of drinking the homespun 'brew' XX.

Some of Harrington's compositions remind me of a Gustave Klimt or Edvard Munch with his fantastic sirens popping out of a bottle of XX, or conjuried up through the imagination of the bootlegger.

Harrington's complex linear compositions are riveting. They deftly guide the viewer through his places where the bootlegger is a solitary journeyman surrounded by his imaginary female companions and the ever present drink of choice.

The bootlegger's loneliness is arrested through his drunken dreams and fantasies. In some of the prints, he portrays the female figures as a Madonnas or maternal figure (thinking Michaelangelo's Pieta), and in others, they pop out of a bottle of brew like a Jeanie.

Harrington loads his compositions with lots of action and imminent tragedy - boats and barns on fire. The dreams and fantasies of the bootlegger are dramatic and explosively charged with line and light in a night-time dreamscape.

The journeyman is fated to wander alone through rivers and swamps, the burning hands of men who perished the journey before him are only visible through their flamed afflicted hands that rise ominously out of the water. One dares not touch them or help them lest one perishes a similar demise. The bootlegger may never reach his destination or find the comfort of a real companion, but we are curious to see his adventures and wish him well.

Harrington was born in Rapid City, South Dakota. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Dakota, and he has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Wichita State University. Currently, Neal lives in Russellville, Arkansas, where he is an Associate Professor of Art and Gallery Director at Arkansas Tech University.

1 comment:

  1. This is super stuff! Reminds me so much of the visual novels of the early 20th century (Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, etc.) when visual storytelling seemed more inspired by silent pictures (early movies) than comic strips.