Paul Morrison. (Reviews: London)

By Archer, Michael | Artforum International, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Paul Morrison. (Reviews: London)


Archer, Michael, Artforum International


ASPREY JACQUES

Black was everywhere in this show-in the treated film imagery, in the darkened projection space, and in the painting's bifurcating forms, which promised to bleed off the canvas and onto the surrounding black walls. What Paul Morrison managed, though, was to hold in abeyance any sense that this darkness was unremitting. Instead, he invited viewers to find from within their own experience whatever color there might be in his starkly black-and-white works. A large painting of tree branches in silhouette against a white ground hung in one space, the walls of which had been painted black. In the other room Morrison played a short film-barely two minutes long-looped onto DVD. Both works bear the same title, Cambium, 2002.

The cambium is the part of a tree just below the bark, in which the plant's new growth occurs, the cellular deposits forming each year's growth ring. Morrison's use of this botanical term is an indication of his interest in the idea that, whether or not he is himself qualified to do so, nature is observable in scientific ways. The word also means exchange, a process that is more broadly appropriate to Morrison's ongoing conversation-carried on through his highly stylized imagery-with the tradition of painting in general and landscape painting in particular. Observational exactitude gets filtered through radical caricature.

At around nine by thirteen feet, the canvas is Morrison's largest yet. Though much of its area is covered by the forkings of branches and twigs on what looks like a pine of some sort, the painting is dominated by two main boughs that run diagonally down from the upper edges on each side. …

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