David Harrison (1954-), City Gent, 2005, oil on wood, 57 x 45.5 cm, Victoria Miro.
In his work, David Harrison often reverses the roles of humans and animals in the way that Jonathan Swift did in Gulliver’s Travels. For Harrison, humans are like Swift’s Yahoos: crude, brutish, vulnerable to base instincts and ruinous of their world. Spectre Lady at Home (take a look) – oppressively gloomy and deathly – illustrates this. On the other hand, animals – like the urban fox in City Gent – are treated like Swift’s Houyhnhnms: wise, dignified (that’ll be the bowler) and inspiring empathy. Whereas the spectre lady is rendered inhuman, the city gent is sharply individualised. It’s an enduring image. ■