Norrie Harman’s Abstract Realism


I am no art expert but I live with an amazing painter. Every day, I  witness the creation of paintings that mesmerise and confuse me. I am not the only one. Norrie has collectors from all over the world, who adore his work. So, being inquisitive, I have examined them very closely and stood from afar. I have had my nose right up at them, scanning the brush-stokes, but was still confused. Norrie’s paintings are completely abstract on close inspection yet he paints very detailed paintings. So, I’ve had a little think about why Norrie’s paintings both delight and confuse me and many others. It has made me think about art and reality…starting with the definition of Abstract Painting…

The definition of Abstract Art  is this:
“Abstract Art uses shape, form, color and line to create a composition which exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world“.

Also, this definition:

“Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art’.

I am also a science nerd, so I started to think about Enstein and reality when I read this definition.  Einstein famously explored space and time with his theories but this was a man who was obsessed with understanding the fabric of reality, just like the abstract painters of his age..”{space and time} are free creations of the human intelligence, tools of thought…” he said, also stating “the physicist seeks to reduce colours and tones to vibrations”.

Einstein knew that space and time are merely concepts as indeed is visual reality. Science has now proved that what we “see” is an alternative version of reality. Reality doesn’t actually exist in the way we think it does. New scientific advances actually show that reality doesn’t exist unless it is observed.

Where does this leave abstract painting? Previously, Abstract Painting was trying to represent an independence from visual reality; we now know that visual reality is in fact abstract.

In the time that I have known Norrie, his paintings have always mystified me. I now know why. Norrie is the ultimate Abstract painter. The closer you get to a Norrie Harman painting, the more pixelated it becomes, until it becomes completely and utterly abstract. He paints reality as it really is…a blurry, glitchy blur of rapid brush-stokes and marks. It is only once the painting is viewed from slightly further away, that the form is revealed…in glorious detail.And in fact, this is exactly like reality.

Norrie Harman paints a form of abstract painting; one of “abstract realism” – a glitchy, pixelated mess of atoms (described in energetic licks of paint), that spring together to create “reality” when observed. You can only truly appreciate this magical effect when you view the painting in the flesh but I will attempt to show you with details of one of Norrie’s latest paintings, “Burnt Out Car, Spylaw”…available to buy at Harman’s Gallery













burnt out car colinton.jpg




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