Breaking the Mold – Art of Harry Ally
Harry, 2007, Charcoal, pastel, acrylic on paper, 28 x 22 in
Painting is the primal impulse to mark. It’s a visual record of the mind, the body, and the human spirit. For me there’s an urgency to both create and destroy. Maybe it’s out of sheer frustration that I work. Maybe it’s just to satisfy a need to violate or to contradict. I’m not sure. There is a strong feeling though and I feel compelled to communicate this feeling.
Concerning content and meaning in my art, I’m never quite sure. The work seems to be layered with different meanings. It primarily deals with vulnerability, fragility, and submission. It conjures up past images and emotions… feelings about the church, about nuns, relationships with my mother, with my wife, and other persons both male and female that all seem to play a part of each painting. And then there’s the surface, the physical quality of the work that eludes to decay, to violation, and to vulnerability.
Liar, 2008, Mixed Media on Panel, 24 x 24 in.
The surfaces of the paintings are like excavations, surfaces layered with a variety of materials… dry pigments, acrylics, tar, fabrics, oils, bonding agents, along with different clays dug from the Georgia soil. From these materials figurative images are unearthed. Their surfaces reveal the painting’s history, its process, and provide actual depth, both physically through build up and layering as well as emotional depth with destructive scarring.
Figure #75, 2007, mixed media on canvas, 72 x 72 in.
The works are an existential search for an abstract presence, an intuitive search into the unknown, a search for truth revealed through distortion and through exaggeration. I feel connected to the past, to a timeless tradition in art that has always been a primary concern of man…the expression of existence. It’s innate. It’s primal. It’s been there since the beginning and I too have become part of this search for meaning and identity through the creative process of art making.
Harry Paul Ally is recognized as one of the South’s finest painters. He has been a professor of drawing and painting at Valdosta State University in Georgia for more than 20 years. Harry Paul Ally has exhibited extensively in individual, group, and juried exhibitions since the 1970’s and has won numerous awards for his paintings across the nation.
Harry Paul Ally utilizes a wide variety of materials – dry pigments, acrylics, tar, fabrics, oils, bonding agents, and different clays dug from the Georgia soil – “From these materials the figurative images are unearthed,” Ally states. “There is a markedly primitive feel to Harry Paul Ally’s work. Even with his raw figures, each canvas seems like a realistic moment in nature,” comments gallery owner, Bill Lowe.
Harry Ally in his studio