‘Tomas questions structures of knowledge that constitute historical and present representations of reality and truth, leaning precariously into the abyss of existential absurdity’


Tomas Harker uses the material qualities of paint as a way of reinterpreting images, and its fallibility as a medium to mirror the effects and failures of history. In the same way, to look at how meaning and reality is obscured in images from contemporary culture, reconsidering the spectacle of our image culture through painting. This preoccupation with meaning relates to how images inform our understanding of present day reality and our history.


History is explored as an unreliable and an inaccurate documentation of the past, and how it was framed to serve the dominant ideology of the time. Appropriating from the history of art, from both the canon of art and more obscure sources, to reinterpret how history is presented and how images are used to manipulate systems of power. Painting has a traditionally authoritative position in culture, and a role in manipulating the public discourse. Parallels can be drawn between art history and contemporary times, and how mass media drives capitalist society. In a questioning response to history, a style of détournement is used that undermines its meaning, obscuring the image through repainting to act as an allegory to its unreliability. Often reduced to their most simple components, sometimes making them almost impossible to decipher, subsequently achieving a disruptive effect.


Contemporary sources, often banal and seemingly meaningless images, are recreated while appropriating conventions from art history. Images are democratised online, history is levelled but meaning and context is destabilised - Painting becomes a way of reconsidering them subjectively, restoring a presence. Rather than offering an answer, Tomas’ paintings explore uncertainties; leaving out information, creating an uncanny sense of ambiguity that relates to personal insecurities but also to the unreliability of the spectacle of image culture, challenging a normalised view.


In exploring the interconnectivity of things, hierarchies are elided, negating ideology and power relations thus affirming aesthetic equality.  Painting acts as an allegory for how truth and meaning is obscured in images, the failure of images to represent reality, and the ungraspable nature of reality. This idea liberates painting; acknowledging painting can only show the outer appearance of things not their true reality, while also attempting to disturb a comfortable viewing. Things are what they are and to explain them any further is to distort them. These paintings embrace this, accepting the lack of clarity without conferring meaning.


UPCOMING August - REPRIEVE, Royal Academy, London

UPCOMING July 2018 - Syzygy, Truman Brewery, London

UPCOMING May 2018 - Kingdom, MAZE Gallery, London (Solo exhibition)

January 2018 - CITE, bo.lee gallery, London

July 2017 - Flux, Chelsea college of art, London

January 2017 - Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh

November 2016 - Flux, Truman Brewery, London

October 2016 - Curious Cabinets, Yorkshire Artspace, Sheffield

September 2016 - Buy Art Fair, Manchester

December 2015 - Flux, Royal College of Art, London

December 2015 - London Illustration Fair

November 2015 - Soho Revue Gallery, London

September 2015 - Buy Art Fair, Manchester

August 2015 - Wonderland, Gosh Gallery, Tuxford (Solo exhibition)

May 2015 - Bank Street Arts, Sheffield

May 2015 - 35 Chapel Walk Gallery, Sheffield

March 2014 - Lent exhibition, 35 Chapel Walk Gallery, Sheffield

September 2014 - 35 Chapel Walk Gallery, Sheffield (Solo exhibition)

Articles & Events

March 2017 - Create Magazine

November 2016 - Aesthetica Magazine

November 2016 - Art Nouveau Magazine/Blog

October 2016 - allmagnews

October 2016 - FAD Magazine

August 2016 - Saatchi Art 'One to Watch' interview

October 2015 - Saatchi Art: 7 Essential Steps to Collecting Emerging Art  

July 2015 - British Vogue Magazine

July 2015 - Fresh Paint Magazine Article

March 2015 - 'Artist of the day' - Saatchi Art

October 2014 - SHULIFE

September 2014 - The Star

August 2014 - Exposed Magazine

June 2014 - Semi-finalist in 'The Body Electric' Saatchi Showdown