Born March 6th, 1994
Sherwood Park AB
As a passionate creative, Josh Harnack relies on visual art to share his singular vision with the world. At age eighteen, before beginning his professional career, Josh was diagnosed with testicular cancer—a revelation that radically altered his perspective and ambition. Having faced his mortality, he dedicated his life after treatment to creating worthwhile, lasting art, and moved from his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta to study film acting at Vancouver Film School. While there, Josh’s cancer returned, this time afflicting his stomach, and later, his lungs. Now, after beating cancer three times and extensively studying human behavior, Josh has unearthed a personal understanding of humanity that he captures with his ever-evolving series of anthropomorphized animals. Josh’s works, which aim to reveal the animalistic nature that humans suppress, earned him the Strathcona County Artist Development Grant in 2016. The grant funded his latest collection, titled "The Royal Canadian Mammal Police,” consisting of five portraits of iconic Canadian mammals—beaver, moose, grey wolf, grizzly bear, and bighorn sheep—posing proudly in RCMP uniforms. Among his many inspirations, Josh lists Josh Keys, Joel Rea, and the master of surrealism, Salvador Dalí, as his chief influencers.
My numerous battles with cancer over the past four years have instilled in me an unwavering motivation to create meaningful, timeless contributions to modern art before my time expires. I’ve found that the painting medium best translates my interpretation of life’s truth, where I can employ a playful mix of surrealism and literalism, abstraction and clarity, and satire and earnestness. The animals I feature, posed as humans, are a testament to my belief that despite our efforts to mask our true nature with materialism, the common thread of all sentient life—animal instinct—resides deep within each of us. To understand ourselves, we must first understand this root element. Often, my animal subjects are contrasted with formal attire, both mocking and flattering their human counterparts while challenging the idea that formality equates civility. This style, which I’ve been developing for over three years, accompanies bright, bold colours with soft, intricate brush strokes, usually rendered in acrylic or oil paint on canvas. Hopefully, while appreciating my collection, the viewer will not only discover an explanation for human behaviour, but find a reflection of their own inner animal.