Harry Michalakeas is a self taught British contemporary artist. Born and raised in England, he emigrated to America in 2002. His work, which is usually monochromatic and primarily done in pastel, charcoal and carbon, is a blend of realism and surrealism. Stopping short of hyper-realism, it’s a heightened, stylized realism, which often delves into life’s darker topics. Since 2015, his work has been featured in over thirty group exhibitions around the country, and he is currently working on material for his first solo show.
‘Tiny Terrors V’, at Dark Art Emporium, Long Beach, CA, 6/18/22-7/16/22
(As yet untitled)Solo show, at Revolution Gallery, Buffalo, NY 9/30/22-11/4/22
‘1692’, at Crucible Gallery, 10/14/22
‘Moleskine Detour’ (gallery show), at Harman Projects Gallery, New York, NY, 6/3-6/22
‘Moleskine Detour’ (travelling show), at One World Observatory, New York, NY, 5/11/22
‘Krampus Group Exhibit’, at Revolution Gallery, Buffalo, NY 12/4/21-
‘Dark Fairy Tales’, at Revolution Gallery, Buffalo, NY, 8/6/21-9/18/21
‘Tiny Terrors IV’, at Dark Art Emporium, Long Beach, CA, 6/12/21-
‘Tondo’, at Spoke Art, San Francisco, CA, 4/3-4/21/21
‘Miyazaki in NYC’, at Spoke Art, New York, NY, 4/16/20
‘Winter is Here’, at Spoke Art, San Francisco, CA, 4/6-7/19
Spoke Art’s ‘My Neighbor Hayao’, at POW! WOW!, Hawaii, 2/13-17/19
’12 Inches of Wood’, at Dark Art Emporium, Long Beach, CA, 2/7/19-
’12 x 12 Show’, at Spoke Art (at Vertical Gallery), Chicago, IL 09/28-30/18
’13th Hour’, at Last Rites Gallery, New York, NY, 10/27/18-11/10/18
‘Isle of Dogs Tribute Show’, at Spoke Art, NYC, 11/8-11/11/18
‘Innocent When You Dream’, at Dark Art Emporium, Long Beach, CA, 11/10-12/1/18
Spoke Art Miyazaki Pop-up, Los Angeles (Santa Monica), CA, 8/17-19/18
‘Zodiac, An Astrology Art Show’, at La Bodega Gallery, San Diego, CA, 8/11-8/20/18
‘Midnight Sun’, at Last Rites Gallery, New York, NY, 6/8-7/28/18
‘Tiny Terrors’, at Dark Art Emporium, Long Beach, CA, 6/9-7/7/18
‘O Coen, Where Art Thou?’, at Spoke Art, NYC, 2/3/18-2/25/18
‘Bad Dads VIII’, at Spoke Art, SF, CA travelling to Portland, OR, 10/26/17-10/29/17
’13th Hour’, at Last Rites Gallery, New York, NY, 10/28/17-11/11/17
‘Miyazaki Tribute Art Show’, at Spoke Art, New York, NY, 9/29/17-10/1/17
‘Flesh To Canvas’, NY Empire State Tattoo Expo, New York, NY, 7/14-16/17
‘David Lynch Art Show’, at Spoke Art, New York, NY, 4/8/17-4/30/17
‘Dawn Chorus’, at The Convent, Philly, 4/14/17-5/12/17
‘Distorted Mirror’, at Last Rites Gallery, New York, NY, 11/19/16 – 1/14/17
’13th Hour’, at Last Rites Gallery, New York, NY, 10/29/16 – 11/16/16
‘Flesh To Canvas’, NY Empire State Tattoo Expo, New York, NY, 7/15-16/16
‘Latent Form’, at Marcas Gallery, Santa Ana, CA, 2/6-29/16
Group exhibition at Last Rites Gallery, New York, NY, 11/15
’13th Hour’, at Last Rites Gallery, New York, NY, 10/10/15 – 11/07/15
I have been drawing since a very early age. Both of my parents were artistically inclined. My Mom was a fine artist and my Dad a naval architect by training. My Dad never stood in my way, and my Mom was unfailingly encouraging and supportive. When I was very young, she taught me to draw by putting her hand over mine while I held the pencil, and we’d draw together. She unfortunately died young, when I was in my teens, but she left me with the gift that I feel most at peace, and connected to her, when I am creating art.
I continued to draw throughout my childhood. It functioned as a doorway to my imagination. If what was in my imagination started life vague and abstract, when I picked up a pencil and drew, it was as if it became real! When I drew something, it was as if I could reach out and touch and feel it. It somehow gave things mental texture and solidity. There is such an aspect of make-believe to art, and as a kid, I’d simply believe in what I was drawing, and it would become real to me.
As a child, I often felt like the subject of a tug of war between my parents. I was raised by my mother, with my father visiting every few weeks, which led to severe disagreements. My parents were from different countries and their cultural differences added to their disagreements. I felt as if my father wanted to get rid of the person my mother had created, and ‘regain’ the son he believed I would have grown into had he been in charge of the raising. This theme of identity under attack keeps surfacing in my work. First in a series of ‘doll ladies’, denizens of a future where our ability to genetically modify our offspring has led to all of our features and imperfections, together with a lot of our humanity, being homogenized away.
The theme of identity continues to evolve in my series of nun characters. In these pieces, while the subject’s identity is threatened through her repressive environment, she fights back or rebels in some way. In ‘Purity’, the first of the series, the subject rebels by having visible tattoos. The rebellion continues in subsequent pieces, as the subject experiments with devil worship, witchcraft and snake handling to name a few. Later, she comes to the realization that what she has been told is a lie, in ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’ and ‘Black Sheep’, before deciding she might as well have a little fun, in ‘Things Fall Apart’.
Most of my recent works are a mixture of soft pastel, charcoal, carbon and conté on paper. I achieve most of my value by applying the pastel indirectly, building it up layer by layer using a variety of brushes. I then augment this with carbon, charcoal, and conté, drawing the fine details, and also to achieve my deepest blacks. While a lot of my work is fairly realistic, I stop short of full photo-realism. My goal with my rendering is for my subject to be believable. I think once that is achieved the door opens for you as a storyteller to tell your story. Visually, I strive for what I call a ‘painterly realism’, where objects appear fairly graphical and stylized up close, but as you zoom out, everything resolves to a greater degree of realism, with the believability accomplished through internal consistency, rather than recreating every detail.
I feel that my last chapter as an artist has been a process of coming full circle. As kids, we already get it. We pick up a pencil and draw, and it becomes a conduit to our imaginations. As we reach adulthood, we become more self-conscious and thoughts of “is it any good?” can crowd out the true joy of creating. A big part of my evolution these last few years has been letting go of as much of that fear as I can and re-discovering the connection to myself through my art, and that sense of make-believe.