Chinese Whispers: Google Portraits


As with all of Harris’s work, the theme to these paintings is identity. Where normally Harris uses his art to get beneath the surface and expose our secret selves, these paintings are based on ignorance and distorted generalisations which perversely create an ‘ultra portrait’ of the sitter – more them than they are. Harris chooses archetypes in the public consciousness as his subjects, such as religious and political leaders and cultural icons. Harris starts the portrait by typing a deliberately dumb description of the intended person’s defining characteristics into his Google search engine and selects a person at random. He then paints the portrait with the real person in mind, creating a single hybrid image of the subject and an entirely new individual who functions as the subjects frankensteinian double.