Harland Miller (UK, 1964) is a writer and artist, best known for his satirical paintings of penguin reimagined classics. Bringing together aspects of pop art, abstract and figurative painting, pervasive photo-realism, and a writer’s love of words, Miller rewrote the definition of fine art.
Over the past two decades, Harland Miller developed this tongue-in-cheek interpretation of classic penguin covers, inventing controversial titles often cited as the author, despite the fact that he sometimes plays on the original author’s name.
He shares sarcastic homage to the British penchant for melancholic nostalgia, seditious socio-political criticism, and the curiosity to know what words are hidden behind the book cover. Dripping and smeared paint and muted tones give the paintings the worn look of a well-read book, with gilt pages and flaking spines sometimes visible behind the aging blankets.
Miller began making paintings according to this template during the 1990s, establishing a visual language that was confrontational, compelling and could draw the viewer into an immediate, entertaining and quick-fire relationship with each work. Coolly fatalistic titles such as Death – What’s In It For Me? or Armageddon – Is It Too Much to Ask? may appear to define the temper of Miller’s vision as an artist, but on a much deeper thought are revealed as more complex pictorial and formalistic devices.
Miller makes works primarily in oil on canvas and watercolor and pencil on paper. He discovers the relationship between colors and feelings with the text In Shadows I Boogie. “The shadows” meaning the unconscious side and “to boogie” being to disappear.