‘The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing’ – Raymond Salvatore Harmon, Abstract Numerology, 11/11/15

ArtAttack sat down with American artist Raymond Salvatore Harmon to discuss his upcoming fundraiser exhibition Abstract Numerology.

All proceeds of the show will go to help fund the inaugural Beta Culture grants that will be open for submission the first week of January. The Beta Culture grant will fund artists/curators/writers and independent spaces with micro-grants from £500 to £1000.

A great opportunity to buy art and support the arts community: https://www.facebook.com/events/1495074467486697/

Abstract Numerology, 11/11/15, RSH
Abstract Numerology, 11/11/15, RSH

Your fundraiser event / exhibition Abstract Numerology for the 2016 Beta Culture grant program will take place on 11/11/15, display 111 paintings all at £111 – how did the idea come about?

After a successful week of Frieze this year and all of the champagne and private parties, I wanted to do something for the people who love my work but can no longer afford to own it. Its frustrating as an artist that the more successful you become the fewer and fewer people who can own an original. I wanted to balance that out by doing a show that gave people a chance to own something they love at a reasonable price. The numbers 111/111/111 and the price of 11% of my regular price worked with the date 11/11. So 111 paintings that are 111x111mm in size for £111 each. With the proceeds going to support the 2016 Beta Grant.

Proceeds go to fund the Beta Culture arts grant, which is open to artists, curators, and writers working in the arts – can you say anything more about the grant and its importance to the arts community?

I have been working on the concept of a grant program where artists can donate the proceeds of a sale of their work as a set of micro grants for emerging artists. I realise how much a small grant can help out an artist who is working with a tiny budget or just needs a bit of a financial break. I figured now that I am doing well with my work I want to give back to the other artists/curators/writers who have supported me over the years. I feel like more artists who achieve success through their work need to reach back to those who still need support and give them a hand up.

The key thing about the Beta Grant is that it will be open to more than just artists. It will be open to curators and arts writers as well. The idea is that its not just artists struggling in this new art world, but those that support and promote the arts as well. I want to provide a platform to those working on more marginalised forms of curation and creation. Give people breathing room to do interesting and challenging things.

The event clearly provides a fantastic opportunity for people to buy affordable art – with the extraordinary prices that art has made / is making on the global stage, how important is it for everyone to still have the chance to own art?

I think owning art is something everyone should do. Art is available at all price ranges from literally thousands of artists around the world. Price has nothing to do with quality. But people have this idea that art is something unobtainable when it’s supposed to be for everyone. Everyone should own art! Having a piece of art in your life radically changes your environment. It provides you with an object of contemplation and adds colour and emotion to an otherwise mundane world.

Can you tell us more about the pieces that will be on display?

The pieces will be 111x111mm (4.44×4.44 inches) on a 6×6 inch white wooden frame. They are part of my meta art series, where I take existing work and cut it up/modify it and change it into new work. This concept of refining art, distilling it – so to speak, has been central to my work over the past 4 or 5 years. Art made out of art.

Have you got any future projects / plans lined up?

I am working on a gallery show and some other big projects for 2016. My larger work has moved into 3D, where I take a large painting on paper and fold it origami style into a 3D shape, then coat it or fill it to make it a rigid object. I am also working on a new mobile/web app series for later next year. Taking the painting and 3D objects back into the digital, from where a lot of the ideas originated.

RSH, “The Devolution of the Sky God”, 2015

– Harry Dougall

Raymond Salvatore Harmon, Abstract Numerology, 11/11/15, The Old Dentist, 33 Chatsworth RoadLondon E5 0LH (nearest tube Homerton Overground)

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