Celebrated for his multi-media sculptures and masks, Sheldon Harvey has also been awarded many prestigious prizes for his compelling paintings. This is the latest one he brought in, a characteristic blend of realism, abstraction, swirling motion, rigorous composition and lovely color.
The round heads that loom out of the seemingly chaotic background are Yeis, Navajo spiritual beings. The artist is very attached to his culture, despite the unique, contemporary way he expresses it. Feathered headdresses are caught up in the whirling motion; misty clouds gyrate around the Yei heads, and delicate dragonfly symbols hover over some of them.
Despite the circular, surging movement of the pale cloud-like areas, the composition is ordered, balanced, and static. There is both animated motion and calm stillness, an eloquent yin/yang mix. The same dynamic contrast exists between the dark background and the pastel, blue-ish, grey-ish, lilac-ish foreground. The outlined heads, feathers, and dragonflies ground the composition.
A powerful painting that is also delicate; full of action and stillness, both. Like the Yeis appearing out of the turbulent heavens, this painting is full of wonder, magic, beauty – and skill. It is the work of an artist who is master of his medium.