Harland Miller visited Berlin for the first time in 1985 and encountered paintings which often incorporated the use of text as an integral part of the picture. Having been advised at art school against the use of text, his Berlin visit had a lasting influence on his work.
Soon thereafter, in the 90s, Miller began to marry text and imagery in a series based on book covers, initially influenced by the pictures found on cheap paperbacks. While living in Paris – and not understanding French – Miller began to change the titles of the books that he found, substituting them for his own. Miller manipulated the iconic Penguin design to shift more emphasis on to the title as both a conceptual and physical element of the work.
Miller returned to Berlin after the collapse of the Wall. Living in a recently reunified city, he found a similarity in atmosphere to the Yorkshire of his 70s childhood, but with the undercurrent of a growing consumerist culture. In this exhibition Miller responds to his memory of that time.
With these large-scale paintings Miller departs from his use of appropriated imagery. Instead he works with his own designs that derive from the abstract geometrical covers of pop psychology books of the 60s and 70s. The text of his new paintings evoke a neurotic poignancy, a flip side to the affirmative slogans of the American Dream.