Harald Smykla

Bio: My practice combines offbeat approaches to drawing and other low-tech media with live art and installation, including numerous site- and context-specific commissions for the public realm that actively engage incidental audiences. My current studio practice is focused on transforming news/media images in various contexts. I have performed and exhibited across England and Europe, including Manchester’s Cornerhouse, the Courtauld Institute, Southwark Park Galleries and England & Co, London.

A two-sided questionnaire form, with printed questions and handwritten answers, with a page of pencil drawings: a bald man holding an apple core and a lit match illuminating some sketchy faces; underneath a hand holding an apple core in the shape of a head; on the right a standing figure with misshapen bare torso, with text written on his back.

C.R.E.H.A. Self-Interview (Documenting an undocumented performance from 2007)

A white outline drawing of a mug is drawn on a piece of brownish corrugated cardboard. Within the outline, a cluster of black tick marks is slightly smudged by a watery wash (possibly tea). Signature, date and clock-time (17:59 – 18:04) are handwritten at the bottom right.

T-Ticker (How many heartbeats does it take to make a brew?)

A square newspaper cutting of a photograph of the PM flanked by 2 other people in full white hazmat suit has been drawn on with black ink pen to reveal a floral landscape, with one orange newt perching on top of a tulip-like white blossom, and a grey frog reaching up from the bottom of the image. Dense vegetation features various large white/grey-ish) blossoms. A few blue flowers appear mainly at the bottom, and some smaller red flowers are scattered around. The caption “Suited and booted” and some more text are still legible at the top left.

c/Ovid Press Government Rewilding: Suited and booted

A handwritten draft text of 15 lines, with some words crossed out or inserted, on a scrap of white lined notepaper with light flower-shaped tea staining. It describes how I would make a “c/Ovid Press Government Rewilding” by overpainting sections of a press photo featuring government figures to reveal an underlying pictorial flora and fauna, referencing new pandemic relationships with nature and politics.

Day14 Intention Note

Against a dark background with grey margins, and in front of what might be blue, green and purple plants, a pale, cross-hatched hammock-like form is stretching from left to right. It is filled with blue, turquoise and purple forms reminiscent of blossoms, fruits and a long-haired head on the right.

Day13 Reprise (night inversion)

An assemblage. A table place-mat has coloured line drawings of red and white mauve flower stems and yellow poppies printed on. An arrangement of fruit waste (banana peel, tangerine peel, cut apple cores, pips and stems) on the mat alludes to human figuration with ornaments and flowers in a hammock.

Fruit Detritus Hammock

A long, somewhat coffin-shaped wooden box with 3 golden elephant shapes on its side, and a lattice-style perforation pattern on its lid, is placed on a pale wooden surface. A golden-brown sculpture of a slightly withered and misshapen cat sits on top of the box. The background is of an earthy pink colour.

Cat Mummy Sarcophagus (Day 2 Revisited)

Drawing on newspaper cutting: A printed text in the left is semi-legible under a thin layer of white.  Drawn over with pencil, a portable pet rehoming cage with open lid sits on a white plinth showing the title handwritten in red. On the right, what once was a photo of Priti Patel walking, is transformed into predominantly blue and some red and white flowers, with 4 small animals (2 birds, 2 mammals), set against a dark background. A small square insert shows a cartoonish plant with “Pritiny Ferries” legible on a leaf, against a green background.

Rehoming Secretary [c/Ovid Press Government Rewilding: Priti daft!]

An assemblage: The foreground in the bottom third of a black and white photocopy shows distorted text of an electrical safety check form, seemingly forming steps. The saffron-coloured inside of a tangerine peel is shaped like an elephant's head, which lurks over the last step. A black background with a complex net of white hairline fissures, which indicate the paper was crumpled and then smoothed back, fills most of the sheet.

Room with electrical safety steps, tangerine elephant and neural network

A slim newspaper cutting of a photograph of Boris Johnson standing in full white hazmat suit has been drawn on with black ink pen to reveal a floral landscape, with one small, rodent-like pink animal perching on top of a tulip-like white blossom that has replaced the PM's face mask. His body is broken up into various large pale (white/pink/grey-ish) blossoms, leaves and stems. A few blue flowers appear at the bottom and, with some smaller red flowers, at the margins. The ground (bottom half) is grey, with sketchy vegetation and a caption ("Sunshine trip" etc.), and turns black at the top.

c/Ovid Press Government Rewilding: Sunshine trip

A window with two panels, both covered in what appears to be frosted foil with text in reverse grey capital letters (Times New Roman font). The upper panel reads “THE TOP MUST MOVE” in reverse, the lower one “TO RECONCILE WITH THE BOTTOM”. Off-white curtains are just about visible. The muted view of the outside consists of four joined-up roof triangles of tall narrow houses and a big shrub with green leaves.

THE TOP MUST MOVE TO RECONCILE WITH THE BOTTOM (Wish we had sash windows)

A broad sheet of beige-coloured fibre paper is divided in two 'pages'. Beneath the handwritten underlined title (top left), sequences of small pictographs, drawn in swift bold ink strokes, run line by line across all of the first and over half of the second page like a text. Some are just hasty squiggles, others show some more defined figurations, which may depict soap actors. At the end, some data (“25 mins approx”, “Broadcast ITV3 15:20 – 15:50”, “HS 6/4/21”) are written in thin pen-point lines, followed by empty page space.

TV Protokoll: Classic Coronation Street (Episode 4351)

A sculptural assemblage comprising an empty perfume bottle used as a vase for two withered roses with long bare stems, which cross at the bottle opening. Their petals are beige coloured, indicating they were originally white. The glass perfume bottle is oblong, the top half is blue, blurring into orange towards the bottom. White print letters at the top spell out “ETERNITY”, in the middle, some apparently erased letters leave “s m e” and at the bottom “l l”; together this reads “smell”.

Eternity smell

A swiftly drawn composite panoramic pencil sketch of a London riverscape – from the 1 Blackfriars building via Blackfriars Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, several iconic City Towers (Cheesegrater, Walkie-Talkie etc.) above the Millennium Footbridge, of which a section on the right is concealed by the profile image of a reading woman, to the Shard and Tate Modern. A few rocks and beachwalkers are visible on the low-tide beach. - The image is composed of ten consecutive sketchbook pages joined up. Accordingly, its width is about six times its height.

Thames view from the beach at Tate Modern on Easter Sunday afternoon 2021

The drawing is a frontal portrait sketch of a man (head and torso) wearing a beret, glasses, a scarf and outdoor jacket. He holds a pen in each hand. The pens are linked by a band. Some kind of wall hanging in the background frames the figure. The drawing is made in two colours - brown in the left half, blue in the right half - on white paper. The drawing tool  used - a brown and a blue colour pencil joined by a rubber band - is presented on  a dark background to the right of the sketch.

Self with ambidexterity aid (brown/blue)

A composite image: A browning apple core, carved by the artist's teeth into the shape of a resting brachycephalic cat, is shown in five sections from five viewpoints (front x 2, back, left side, right side). In the middle section, the dental sculpture is shown sitting on a whole red apple. All sections feature a white-ish background.

Dental Portaiture (Sculpting By Eating): Brendan the brachycephalic rescue cat

On a dark background rests an old Pound coin. The Queen's head is overlaid with a black and white miniature line drawing of a shaven-headed, bespectacled male head in profile, signed and dated. Underneath is a white label featuring the '£' character and the capital letter 'I'.

£ I (Artist's Profile Change)