For this yearly obligation, a reflection in the mirror of me on my « carpet studio ». On the right hand side, two paintings, François Glineur’s Portrait of VanGogh, and Noriko Aoki’s bouquet of fragrant Osmanthus. Two of the very first pieces of art I purchased, from artists that I admire.
Yearly self-portrait au carré. 2019. J.Harms.
Another year another portrait. This one is me sitting on my « carpet studio » looking at my reflexion in a mirror. At the back a glimpse of the window overlooking a cherry tree. My work as a decorative painter has been thriving, and sadly my paintings have been few and far between as a consequence. Three so far this year isn’t much. Yet there are so many things I need to paint.
Yearly self-portrait with noren. 2018. J. Harms. 29x39cm. Acrylic on red paper.
This year’s portrait was more difficult to paint than the previous years. I painted and discarded several before finally painting this one. Ten years ago, almost to the day, I left France to go to Japan, where I lived and worked for a year and a half.
It was a tough yet rewarding and meaningful experience. It was there that I found my artistic language among the many colors and lines of the cityscape of Nagasaki.
While living there, I got to witness traditional holidays, and seasonal events. I also visited craft shops, I began collecting art too, and sent home many things, like this noren, a detail of which I painted in the background. It now hangs in my bedroom.
Yearly self-portrait with a bird. 2016. J.Harms. 29x39cm. Acrylic on paper.
I year ago, I decided I would paint a portrait of myself once a year. One of my sisters, usually blunt in her honesty, pointed out that it looked like I had just come out of prison, (she was part right in noticing that something had come out of a cage, although it wasn’t me), while the other, more diplomatically, thought it rather interesting, and totally different from the previous self portrait. I was just happy both had immediately recognized me.
Yearly self-portrait 2015. J.Harms. Acrylic on red paper. 29×39 cm .
I decided to paint a portrait of myself once every year. I don’t exactly know why I decided to do this, but I think it’s an interesting idea. It reminds me, now that I think of it, of a family portrait a Chinese father and daughter posed for, once every year, at the exact same place, over decades. I remember reading this somewhere, and thinking that it was a great way to show the passage of time. Like a human still life. The French, refer to it as a “nature morte”, something that is in decay. How will I look like in a year ? In ten years ? Will Time be generous or not.