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An Exhibition of Harley in Vertova
Paintings That Spring From a Flurry of Questions

L’Eco di Bergamo June 1, 1986

“Maker of images”, the artist offers a visual language that is quite evocative...even lines become color.

Currently under way at the Cultural Center of Vertova there is an exhibit devoted to the U.S. painter Harley, who has already been a guest of our city with a showing of collages at the Michelangelo Gallery.

Now using the evocative hall of the Cultural Center (ex-convent), the artist offers a series of canvases that are particularly interesting: about thirty of his works chosen from among his latest productions. Harley lives and works in Ohio and is a proponent of a pictorial figurative tendency that is today more than ever being supported by artists and public.

Having defined himself as a “maker of images”, Harley proposes a visual suggestive language that is immediately comprehensible, whose lines, colors and forms are letters in an absorbing alphabet.

Harley’s painting appears figurative even in those works where the very lines are colors and drawing gives place to the adept use of spots predominantly of green and blue which are arranged into landscapes that are extremely fresh and spontaneous.

The main point of these canvases underscores the artist’s proposed investigation in the direction of truth beyond appearances, through a constant questioning. Convinced of the superficiality of the knowledge man has of himself, Harley explores nature in order to find questions to feed his curiosity.

“Before guessing at some answers you have to ask many questions”, he is used to repeating, and his work, a total and absorbing commitment, impels him to put to himself hundreds of questions.

To be a man and an artist, beyond definitions, is perhaps the most difficult art; to know oneself and the world around you is an arduous enterprise; then translating this knowledge into a comprehensible language bears witness to a great sensibility, to an extreme sharpness, to a profound generosity.

By Alessandra Orlando

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Arte in Provincia
Opere di Harley a Vertova
Works of Harley in Vertova


L’Eco di Bergamo May 30, 1986

With about thirty works the American painter Harley reveals a synthesis of his work produced during the eighties through the capable personnel at Vertova in the rooms of the Cultural Center (ex-convent). The paintings are divided into three precise periods each characterized by various thematics: 1981 figures, 1984 nature morte, 1985 landscapes. First of all it is interesting to note the flights of fancy/whimsy of this artist who can create time and again different expressions according to the subjects treated, and who can indulge his fancy with new and original stylistic forms without ever falling short of his clearly defined personality.

Figures insert themselves into surrealistic surroundings in search of an intimacy that’s metaphysical more than anything else. It’s a world, then, that’s observed with intelligence and related to existential conceptualizations.

The nature morte underline an autonomous “presence” in the context of a neo-realism that’s well thought out, vigorous and intelligent. The landscapes, finally, connect with a modern impressionism that is made of immediacy and freshness. And all of it is presented with absolute mastery of design which well underlines Harley’s lived experience and a chromatism that necessarily relates to style but which is the marvelous synthesis of an harmonious blending of color juxtaposed to a rigorous severity. You note immediately that you’re before an artist with special pictorial gifts, extroverted, rich with vitality, and without ties of any sort to any current but rather completely autonomous and independent. From this there come works of art that are truly “pearls”, wherein the communicative strength of Harley is rendered with clarity, not only with persuasive images but authoritative as well. It is impossible not to get involved by these suggestions of signs and color into which Harley has been able to infuse his “passion” of an authentic painter who can bring to the canvas his inspiration interpreted by a unique poetic vein.

The exhibit organized by the Civic Communal Library and the alders of the Cultura del Comune di Vertova, in collaboration with the Galleria d’arte Michelangelo of Bergamo will remain open until the second of June.

By Lino Lazari

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“L’arte”
by Antonio de Santis

l Giornale di Bergamo-Oggi May 28, 1986

With the fascination of the former convent, where the Cultural Center of the Comune of Vertova is located, there has been prepared an exhibit of the U.S. painter Harley.

The exhibit, realized in collaboration with the Michelangelo Gallery of Bergamo, displays about thirty works, some of which are of huge dimensions, in which it is possible to witness the cultural view of the world on the other side of the ocean of the artistic production of Europe. Through certain neo-romantic aspects, Harley’s vision approaches the world of Europe with a fresh glance at certain things and a simple one at others in which is seen the enthusiasm that this artist has for particular painting of “old Europe” in which figuration finds a very precise existence and being of its own that goes beyond representation. Still representation interests Harley to the degree that the use of color becomes, in the context of his work, an essential and fundamental pattern of his artistic procedure.

Narrative visions through which inherent poetic qualities become misted over in rendering the real, lose the rhythmic cadence of certain French painting of the 19th century. The clarity of colors and their application become, in all probability, the focus of the artist’s expressive moment.

Educated at Indiana University, Harley has taken courses in Greek and Roman Art, Occidental Art, African, Indian, and Asian Art in addition to painting of the 20th century. Beside these studies add those of art and criticism with Ellen Johnson. The education of this artist is thus complex and he faces head on all aspects of Occidental art in its many forms be they sculptural or pictorial. But even the drawing poses as its own logic which we might define as European, though preserving its American temperament and vision.

It is well known that European art has always had a fascination for artists on the other side of the ocean, above all for that sweet and persuasive poetry, especially that of the Mediterranean, that representation possesses. It is the melody of the tonic form which never oversteps the context of the proper meditation and never becomes a vulgar allegory of reality.

It is a significant exhibit offered at Vertova by the Civic Community Library and by the Ministry of Culture, which has accepted the invitation of the Director of the Michelangelo Gallery for the preparation of this exhibit where the public can meet painting different from that which habitually appears in the Bergamasque region and that is tied to tradition.

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