"Jan Van Huysum (active in the 17th and 18th centuries) was one of the greatest painters of still life, and specialised in the skilled representation of flowers. In the National Gallery's Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736) the eye roves across a static landscape of flowers, the painter imbues life and vivacity in the work with the addition of butterflies, flies and the bowing, curling, explosion of stems that support the flower heads, almost all of which are in full bloom - timed to open like a synchronised firework. Here and there, a droplet falls. The grapes and peaches feel ripe and good enough to eat. As we further inspect the piece, things begin to take on a surreal twist, the perspective feels strange, like the vase is sliding into the background, the small nest of eggs feels glued on and all the insects are suspended in animation, or posed as if nothing will take flight.
Harris' Bloomed Wall (2017) pays homage to this genre of still life painting. In these works, the artist fully embraces the surreal, anachronistic nature of the arrangement of many different varieties of flower in coordinated bloom. Unlike in nature the flowers are made to last, rather than a real-life simulation they are caricatures, an abstraction of the real thing. The flowers sway and react to the viewer's movements as if attached to springs, jostling for position, docking themselves like spaceships into their position on the grid, petals open and close but never fall from the stem. In some ways, it is the logical conclusion of a still life genre which aimed to capture the ecstatic moment of the hyper-real bloom than any perceived objective reality."
Extract from essay by Sunny Cheung