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artist statement

I am concerned with the ideas developed by existentialist thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus in the 20th century. I use paint to communicate my thoughts about the notion of existing in a world with other people, generation-spanning physical structures and the ticking clock.


We have no evidence that events from our past happened as we think they did. Perhaps other witnesses could confirm that an event took place: a building on fire, a birthday party or a dog getting onto school premises. Only an individual can wonder if they felt scared, were cold or happy. Where the party was held, the breed of the dog and the scale of the blaze can be forgotten and be left as only conjecture. Over time these details are reconsidered, estimated and assumed to be fact.


The past is a succession of stories we tell ourselves, to be moulded at will. Antoine Roquentin, the protagonist in Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘Nausea’, is acutely aware of this phenomenon. His day to day existence is tormented by a sense of meaninglessness brought on by existing only now, and therefore for no designated purpose. He has travelled the world but, in the present, those experiences do not exist.


I am torn between demonstrating the absurdity of the past and reaching out into the past; to make it physical, and feed my nostalgia.


I make images without anecdote or sentiment. They refer to the places I have spent time without reference to specific events, people or emotions.


My paintings are the nearest things in existence to my past.

Dan Harland

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