D’Amelio Terras is pleased to present never before exhibited works on paper by John Morris.
John Morris is known primarily for creating delicate and compositionally complex works on paper that feature built up surfaces and repetitive forms, reflecting his fascination with systems and patterns. In this series of eight works dated 2002, he explores a larger scale and introduces a subtle use of color: pale blue, purple, yellow and red play against faint marks of ink or graphite. In certain works, droplets of translucent or white acrylic gel create small reliefs and reveal a second composition over the image.
The tension between the decorative and the anatomical has been a constant in John Morris’ works and is heightened in these pieces. Associations with microorganisms lend themselves easily: systems of repetitive shapes grow organically over the page, their fluid combination evokes symbiotic relationships between organisms, life cycles carried by the fusion of two elements. The marks are suggestive of cellular structure. Miniature swirls, concentric fine circles or ellipses, pendant drop shapes, crown formation of globules of acrylic gel proliferate into complex compositions and result in elaborate shapes that seem caught in stages of expansion. As the distinctions between animals and plants were not clearly defined in nature’s early stages of development, the compositions call to both classifications, as if John Morris was studying the structures and reproductive mechanisms of primitive flora and fauna.
The universe of reference of these meticulous drawings can also expand beyond the biomorphic. The self-taught dimension of John Morris’ practice relate to other art forms as Ken Johnson notes in a review of one of Morris’ previous exhibitions: Echoes of Klee and Miró, medieval manuscript illuminations, Persian and Indian miniatures and Tantric art enhance the playfully mystical resonance. One senses both an erotic and a spiritual joy in these inspirational works.
John Morris was born in New York. His work is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.