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Artist's new exhibition explores reality and illusion

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:00 12 April 2016

George Harding's paitings explore illusion, reality and our sense of self

George Harding's paitings explore illusion, reality and our sense of self

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An artist who was treated at Bethlem is holding a new exhibition in Bromley

An artist who underwent treatment at Bethlem Hospital is holding a new exhibition of his works at the Ripley Arts Centre.

‘Mirror’, an exhibition of oil paintings by George Harding, explores themes of illusion and reality, what it is to be human, how we relate to others, and how we understand ourselves.

Mr Harding was referred to Bethlem Hospital while he was studying at Chelsea College of Arts and experiencing mental health difficulties, and he held an exhibition of his work there in 2012.

Discussing his work with the Bromley Times, Mr Harding said: “Sometimes it is tongue-in-cheek, but it’s about wanting to get beyond things but not necessarily being able to. It is a reflection of how I viewed the world in the past, with mental health issues. The way we perceive things can be different at different times. Images say what I can’t put into words, really.

“Francis Bacon has been a big influence on my recent paintings. He did portraits, and they can be violent. These works are in the same vein, but I was trying to make them more calm and sort of accepting.

“The colours that I have chosen are very important as well, and they are there to make the paintings wonderful - celebrations, instead of macabre images, and more meditative.

“Art is very cathartic, but it is also about showing others, so that internal dialogue is made external, and you can have a dialogue with a person through an image and find common ground. And the process of creating, as well - I love it.”

Beth Elliott, coordinator of Bethlem Gallery, added: “People connent with George’s work in a very profound way. He has got an amazing knack of capturing the essence of his subjects, and then when he is painting himself it often moves into abstraction - it is more about feelings and his state of mind on that day.”

Ms Elliott added that Bethlem Hospital’s facilities provide a therapeutic space for some people, while allowing artists like Mr Harding to maintain their practice as they undergo treatment.

‘Mirror’ will run from April 12 to May 20 at the Ripley Arts Centre, 24 Sundridge Avenue.

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