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Man imagines famous paintings hung in airports to make airports more bearable

Most, if not all, airports are made with function in mind, and seldom form. But what if we spruced up the sterile aesthetic of airports with a bit of fine art?

Peter D Harris, an artist from Toronto, creates paintings that depict airport terminals having iconic artworks on their walls – like a museum, but with flight delays and awful customer service.

Some of the paintings that Harris has covered include the works of Francis Bacon, Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, and David Hockney.

According to Harris, the idea for the series came to him while he was traveling through a Swiss airport. Wandering through the facility’s labyrinthine halls, he used the large back-lit advertisements as markers to avoid getting lost.

Upon arriving home, he started painting images that add historical and artistic elements to a space that often fails to inspire or uplift.

We spoke to Harris to learn more about his work and his exhibit held at Galerie d’Este in Montreal from now until 1 April 2018.

Please tell us more about yourself. How did you become an artist?

“I always loved to paint and draw as a kid, and I had a lot of encouragement from my grandmother. I would paint and draw with her after school when she lived with my family. After I graduated from high school, I went to stay with her for a month in Texas, and I had the chance to paint and draw in her studio every day.

“It was my first taste of the artist’s life.

“So, because of this experience, when I was deciding what to study in university, art seemed like the thing that would be the most interesting to me!”

How would you describe your work?

“My paintings always focus on the urban environment-buildings and architecture. I consider it to be a form of landscape painting, but for a modern, urban audience. I work in a realist style, but it’s ‘distilled realism’, as opposed to photorealism. I’m often simplifying or altering the subject to get at its essence.”

Take us through your creative process. How long does it take you to finish a painting? How do you choose the artworks that you plan to recreate in miniature version?

“I like to work on two paintings at a time, so that I can switch between them. While one is drying between layers, I’ll switch and work on the other.

“I can spend about 100 hours on each painting, working from my studio loft in downtown Toronto. I work from multiple photos that I take around the city, using them as a reference for the drawing on the canvas before I start painting in oils.

“I typically start painting the building or the interior space first, and then as I’m working I’ll decide on the artwork that I’ll recreate in miniature. Often it’s an artist’s work that I feel has some connection to the space-maybe it’s the composition, or the subject. It’s an intuitive process, but it has to have some form of logic as to why it’s there.”

Do you have plans of actually hanging your artworks in an airport?

“Ha! I’ve never thought about that! That would be interesting to bring the work back to the airport that I started from.”

Which artists do you plan to cover next?

“I’ve used Edward Hopper quite a bit already, and now I’m doing some research on Dechirico, as he has a similar approach to light and isolated spaces as Hopper.”

What should visitors expect at your upcoming exhibit?

“When people visit my show Undisclosed Locations at Galerie d’Este in Montreal, I think they’ll see these quiet, contemplative spaces that will feel familiar, but might be from another part of the world. Hopefully, visitors will want to spend more time looking at the painting than they would spend in the actual airport or waiting room!”

To learn more about Peter D Harris’ series and ongoing exhibit, head on over here.