Nicholas Harper is an Atelier trained, award-winning artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Harper refers to his personal artistic style as magical realism. His major influences include Russian and Orthodox Iconography as well as literature and philosophy.
Perhaps most well-known for his signature portraits of women with long necks, Harper infuses each painting with the potential for story-telling, metaphor and allegory. In doing so his intention is for each painting to transcend mere portraiture, the representation and documentation of an individual, and elevate each image to the status of archetypal symbol. Much of this is achieved by distorting reality and confounding preconceived notions of what is “beautiful” or “natural” within the frame work of the human figure. It is from this place that his signature “long neck” theme has emerged over time and defined much of his artistic career. While his style, subject matter and technique continue to evolve over time, central themes found throughout his work include concepts of divinity, the search for meaning, the nature of soul and the inner struggles within the self.
Of equal importance to his pursuit of the transcendent in portraiture is his pursuit and promotion of the beautiful. “Art must be beautiful, even if it’s ugly. There must be a beauty in it for it to not only touch the soul, but to be of the soul.”
In the spirit of finding beauty and his desire to continually be artistically reborn, his creative spirit has, as of late, given rise to the exploration of nature through what he refers to as Ambient Landscapes which he calls Nocturnes.
Born out of the tradition of Romanticism, his inherent distrust of technology and his aversion to much of what modernity elevates as “sacred” and “holy”, Harper has turned his attention away from the techno-centric and toward the natural world. In doing so he hopes to create nodes of spiritual connectivity with the divine, each painting offering itself as a portal to the spiritual world, a place of meditation and an homage to the universal principle of beauty.
After being ejected from his artist co-op in 1999, Harper opened The Rogue Buddha Gallery to facilitate a cross-disciplinary exhibition program that combined two and three-dimensional exhibits with dance, theater, film, music and the literary arts. Harper has creatively contributed to and involved himself in most of these fields to one extent or another.
Over the past 20 years, while continuing to own and operate the Rogue Buddha which has gained international notoriety, Harper has continued to expand upon his personal artistic repertoire. He has exhibited throughout the country and is collected internationally in both private and public collections. He has appeared in numerous publications and media outlets including CNN where he was named as an artist to watch.
In addition to the gallery and his artwork, Harper is an avid collector himself and publishes the arts journal, Amorous Vespertine while maintaining an all-things-arts related blog, roguebuddhism.com.
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CLICK TO WATCH NICHOLAS HARPER ON PBS
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357 13th Ave Northeast Minneapolis Minnesota 55413
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