Harry Markusse is a born artist. Art is in his genes, but he had to discover this for himself. Discovery has now become a central theme in his work. Harry makes abstract paintings. He has exhibited at the Lloyd Hotel and will be making a permanent mural in room 610 on the 9th of September. During coffee on a Monday morning, Harry Markusse (29 years old) exudes boyish enthusiasm as he talks about his art and the road he has taken to get there.
‘When I started at the art academy Minerva in Groningen I didn’t know what art was. I had no idea what installations were or what a composition meant. I also didn’t understand that you could make abstract work. I grew up in Rotterdam and did a lot of graffiti. At the age of 18 I stopped with the graffiti and soon after I started painting. To get into the art academy, you have to submit a portfolio of work and sketchbooks showing the last 6 years of your work. To be honest, I had never really drawn anything I had just started painting. So I spent the next 6 months filling sketchbooks with tons of drawings. During the admission I pretended that the work I had made in the past six months in those sketchbooks had taken me 6 years.’ Harry was admitted to the Art Academy in 2009.
During his time at the academy, Harry was given every opportunity to invent himself. ‘In the first year it became clear how divers art is and what the possibilities are.’ During the first classes in graphics and screen printing, Harry was confronted with the fact that he was unable to draw. His fellow students made refined etchings. He didn’t get any further than a few abstract lines on the iron plate. So he immersed himself in the technique of printing. ‘For seven lessons I was only printing. I used all kinds of colours. I think I made about 300 prints.’ This assignment showed me what print art was about. ‘The creative process is important. I’m still experimenting with screen printing and graphics.’
Harry calls himself a late-bloomer at the academy. ‘I only started painting in my third year.’ His graduation project was poorly graded. It made him doubt himself. During the graduation ceremony, school prizes were also awarded. He didn’t expect anything and went out to lunch with his mother. During lunch his fellow students phoned him, he was nominated. Soon he was standing on stage as a nominated exhibitor for the Museum Belvédère, holding a bunch of flowers. A collector from Groningen bought all his work. On his way back to Rotterdam, a gallery owner in Amsterdam called to ask if he wanted to be part of The Best of Graduates, an exhibition with 15 selected up-and-coming talents. From that moment on, Amsterdam became his home base.
His work process is like a voyage of discovery. He starts by drawing lines on canvas, for which Harry uses tape. Then he paints over the tape. ‘It’s about repetition and dynamics, but I also want to keep it picturesque. My signature is incorporated in the paint.’ His paintings are abstract, rhythmic and colourful. It starts a relationship with his surroundings. ‘I don’t star paint with a fixed idea. Sometimes I don’t know why something is right or wrong. I want to give the viewer the freedom to interpret the work.’
When something goes wrong it sometimes offers a new perspective. ‘I throw away about 70 to 80 percent of what I make. Of the discarded works I cut out all the interesting pieces, my studio is full of piles of clippings that I sometimes use for new work.’
In the spring of 2019 Harry exhibited at the Lloyd Hotel. The works hanging in the restaurant were 2.40 metres high. ‘In my studio they were a big obstacle, but once in Lloyd Hotel it was clear they were the right size. It is great to see their impact on the space.’ The exhibition at Lloyd Hotel was an informal way to show work. A collector bought Harry’s work and one of the vertical works is now hanging in the stairwell of a house in Rotterdam.
On the 9th of September Harry will make a mural in room 610: ‘I think Lloyd Hotel is a nice place to add art to. Several artists have done so and it is special to be part that group. Moreover, it gives an extra dimension to the guest experience.’ Before Harry starts his piece at Lloyd Hotel he comes by to determine the colours. The colour is the only certain thing before he starts a mural. The composition will be determined on the spot.
Curious? Book 2 star room 610. Or come and have a look while Harry is at work on September 9th between 10am and 5pm.