PJ Harper is a solo artist based in Glasgow, predominantly working in the medium of sculpture. Having studied Fine Art, Sculpture at the Glasgow School of Art he continues to build upon an extensive body of work made from polymer clay, detailing intricate renderings of the human body. His fascination with texture and the human form has culminated in a range of sculptures from busts to fuller figures, digital prints and acrylic on canvas. Harper uses his art to celebrate the black body in its entirety, inspired by his family, particularly his grandfather Paul Wynter who was Britain’s second black body builder. Much of his imagery is taken from archival footage and old photographs of his grandfather and mother. Harper integrates family narratives with the diverse content he is exposed to on social media (primarily Instagram), creating interesting conversations and intersections within his practice.
Harper aims to use his art as a way to share the experiences of his family, whilst positing his own dual heritage within the wider conversation around race and identity. His work has roots in the afrofuturist imagination as well as more classical Greek imagery, both of which allow him to embrace the black body in its unapologetic state of beauty. Being of mixed race heritage has made Harper acutely aware of the myriad of narratives that sit within the black experience and art has been a way to pay homage to the spectrum of shades and body types that sit within the Diaspora. Influenced by artists such as Augusta Savage, Kara Walker and Solange who celebrate black culture in tandem with more uncomfortable conversations and truths, his work balances hedonism with a tangible sense of realism. Ultimately his art showcases the pluralities that blackness encompasses, steering the conversation away from a homogenous portrayal of the black body in art. He is looking to scale up his sculptures in future works.