Alex Harsley: An
Overview -- an exhibition of candid photographs that surveys six
decades of a longtime photojournalist’s exploration and passion for
contemporary daily human drama, will open at the June Kelly Gallery,
166 Mercer Street, on June 22. The work will remain on view
through July 28.
Alex Harsley, a native of
South Carolina and a New York resident since early childhood,
chronicles stories in which the city and its parade of persons are
primary subject. With keen discerning eye for narrative and
irony, never without camera in tow, and roaming on his bike, Harsley
bridges street photography and documentary.
In earlier gallery
exhibitions Harsley has shown geographically focused series, each
reflecting his visual perception of the neighborhood, its
revolution, inhabitants and lifestyles. His inner passion for
daily human drama allows him to approach the subject of place in a
personal and subjective way and produces images that represent a
specific history – one continually evolving out of a larger movement
of change through time.
Harsley’s images never
convey a sense of an uncomfortable invasiveness. Yet the power
of his visual storytelling brings attention to neighborhood enclaves
and life styles that are unnoticed or never come to mind for most
In this current exhibition,
his visual narratives from 1958-2017 structure yet - another
perception of Harsley as a photojournalist whose keen eye with
regard to human subjects is a very much recognized interest that
both intrigues and offers insight about people who have crossed his
Harsley’s portraits reflect
both his uncanny sense of composition and gut reaction to the
subject that is spontaneous, deliberate and focused beyond muddled
and complex reality. His acumen affords information and grace
that feed viewers’ inquisitiveness. This discernment is seen
in his portraits of Muhammad Ali, whom he studied for weeks at the
boxer’s upstate camp, in observance of Jean Michel Basquiat moving
about in his East Village neighborhood, and in being captivated by
Apollo Theater jazz greats.
In Harsley’s images, the
endless restaging of life….scenes, culture, economics, personalities
and politics is made ever more apparent.
Harsley’s images have been
seen in numerous one-person and group exhibitions national and
international and are represented in many private collections.
Harsley studied privately with Professor Lloyd Varden of Columbia
University, a key figure in color photography. He has
collaborated on projects with a number of other artists, including
videos with David Hammons and Candida Alvarez, and produced a video
documentary, “The Life and Work of Vincent Smith.”