Andrew Rafacz continues its ongoing collaboration with Los Angeles-based Country Club with Mata Atlantica, new paintings by Aaron Morse in Gallery Two. This is the artist’s first exhibition in Chicago. It continues through Saturday, March 17, 2012.
The exhibition’s title, as well as a recent group of paintings by the artist, is taken from a Portuguese book on the Brazilian rainforest. The resulting "jungle" paintings are imagined from different vantage points. For example, one painting shows the landscape as far beneath us, as if from an airplane, with smoke and fires faintly visible far away. Another picture has us back on the ground in a thick forest setting with a series of vignettes of hidden animals and human interactions that may or may not be geographically or historically accurate. These are painted in a hazy, loose style as if they were something dreamed: Fitzcarraldo meets Rousseau.
In a series of new aerial landscapes, Morse experiments with setting and a change in perspective offered by great heights and distance. Distant cities, deserts, watersheds, mountains, and coastlines are created by many layers of atmospheric stains, drips, spills, and frottage techniques. The scale is pleasantly confusing; how high up are we, at what angle do we view the topography below? Though visually these works resemble abstract expressionist paintings, Morse considers them stylized representations of online maps or aerial photography and consistent with his more narrative work. They represent the same pictorial world, just from different points of view.
Mesoamerican artifacts and visuals are mined in two La Salle Codex watercolors. Though Robert de La Salle was a 17th century explorer, here it refers to the street in West Adams, Los Angeles where the artist lives and works. These lost language warrior-charts are reminiscent of hieroglyphics and Marvel comics; their details and meaning enigmatic and now nearly abstract.
Morse continues his preoccupation with figures and action in the landscape, and also with the malleability of historical and illustrated imagery. Subtle decisions of scale, composition, color and materials allow for a complex re-imagining of pictorial information from our culture into the painted form, colorful pictures that read fast and slow.
AARON MORSE (American, b. 1974) lives and works in Los Angeles. His works are included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.