White Cube’s Harland Miller comes home for biggest solo show at York Art Gallery

York, So Good They Named It Once, by Harland Miller, oil on canvas, 2009, copyright Harland Miller, Photo copyright: White Cube (Stephen White)

YORK artist and writer Harland Miller’s largest ever solo exhibition will be held in his home city next year.

Harland Miller: York, So Good They Named It Once will run at York Art Gallery from February 14 to May 31 2020.

Supported by fellow North Yorkshireman Jay Jopling’s White Cube galleries in London, the show features Miller’s best-known series, the Penguin Book Covers and the Pelican Bad Weather Paintings.

These works directly refer to the 55-year-old artist’s relationship with York, the city where he was born and grew up before moving to London, as well as making wider references to the culture and geography of Yorkshire as a whole.

Death, What’s in it For Me?, by Harland Miller, oil on canvas, 2007, copyright Harland Miller, Photo copyright: White Cube (Stephen White)

The titles are all sardonic statements on life: York, So Good They Named It; Once Whitby – The Self Catering Years; Rags to Polyester – My Story and Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore.

In addition to these dust-jacket paintings, Miller will show works from his recent Letter Painting series: canvasses made up of overlaid letters to form short words or acronyms in a format inspired by the illuminated letters of medieval manuscripts.

Miller left Yorkshire to study at Chelsea School of Art, graduating in 1988 with an MA, since when he has lived in London, New York, Berlin and New Orleans.

He has held solo exhibitions at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, in 2009 and Palacio Quintanar, Segovia, Spain, in 2015. Group exhibitions include the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1996; Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany, 2004; Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005, 2006 and 2007; Sculpture in the Close, Jesus College, Cambridge, 2013, and Somerset House, London, 2016.

In 2008, Miller curated the group show You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil, an homage to Edgar Allan Poe to mark the bicentenary of his birth, at White Cube and Shoreditch Town Hall, London.

Ace, by Harland Miller, oil on canvas, 2017, copyright Harland Miller, Photo copyright: White Cube (George Darrell)

His first novel, Slow Down Arthur, Stick To Thirty, the story of a child who travels around northern England with a David Bowie impersonator, was published by Fourth Estate in 2000.

That same year, Book Works published his novella, At First I Was Afraid, a study of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, based on the true story of a female relative, whose box of Polaroid images, all of oven knobs turned to “Off”, was discovered by Miller.

In his artwork, he continues to create work in the vein of his Penguin covers, wherein he married aspects of Pop Art, abstraction and figurative painting with his writer’s love of text. He now includes his own phrases, some humorous and absurd, others marked by a lush melancholia.

Charles Hutchinson