Born in Quebec City, he settled in Montreal, where he studied fine arts at the Université de Québec. For many years, clay was his material of choice. For the past two years, he has passionately devoted himself to creating works of art that leave no one unmoved.
“Garbage” is Harvey’s new material of choice, but not just anything that’s been thrown away. He uses only the litter found on the streets and sidewalks of the city. These bits and scraps are collected and sorted by colour to be used when needed. The entire image is created with salvaged items: the support is made of salvaged wood, and recovered paint is used for the base layer. Once the image is complete, the work is coated with a layer of transparent resin that protects it and makes it more appealing to the viewer. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Michel Harvey's approach places him between Arcimboldo, who created portraits by painting images composed of fruits and vegetables representing his subjects’ features and clothing, and Edward Burtynsky, who photographs recycling depots and garbage abandoned in nature. We often find Burtynsky’s photographs disturbing while at the same time, they show us an unsuspected beauty.
Far from being static, Michel Harvey's works become the springboard for discussion. No one can be indifferent to their theme, and through their plasticity, they invite viewers to identify something they know or have seen. The works can even make viewers question themselves: perhaps they themselves have tossed a bit of garbage onto the sidewalk or the street—making them either the happy contributors to Harvey’s artwork or the negligent individuals who toss their litter into the street.