Richard Telles presents new paintings by Ivan Morley, his second solo exhibition with the gallery, featuring new works on glass, aluminum, and fabric, as well as new watercolor and gouache drawings on paper. This marks the first time his paintings and drawings have been exhibited together.
It could be said that Morley builds images rather than paints them. Two vertical works on view, from the group “A True Tale”, borrow their structure from a sheet of cracked glass, and text from the box that housed it. For these works, Morley painted the image on glass, peeled it off, and mounted it to the aluminum support, exchanging one substrate for another. Also featured are three works directly on glass that Morley has painted on the reverse, presenting the painting as a mirror image. Doubles also appear in two works entitled “Tehachepi(sic)” on view, each nearly identical to one another, depicting the front of a snail under a batiked celestial body: thread sections sewed into the support often interlock or sit near oil paint passages applied by brush, while the dyed grounds set a mood. Like past twins (though each piece is considered a separate work), Morley pits the cult art object against its duplicate by making both from scratch. One copy attempts to supersede the other, but variations inevitably appear because of Morley’s hand, as if the paintings were unique, pre-industrial souvenirs.
It is the style of Morley’s facture that suggests a ritualistic approach. Often understood to influence forces beyond the maker’s control, ritual is not always a mystical act, but rather, a fetish for materials and process—even if its effects are not explicit. Sacrificing a step in the process can risk the work losing a quality that cannot be retrieved. For Morley, rituals provide the crucial density of time—and hence, detail—that pervade his surfaces, whose lineages span from the margins of Western art history to indigenous artifacts. Morley’s paintings are at once esoteric and contemporary, naïve and sophisticated. They exist in a time zone of their own.
Ivan Morley recently held a solo exhibition at Kimmerich, New York, in 2012; he was also included in group exhibitions at Tanya Bonakdar, New York in 2011 and Galerie Barbara Weiss in 2012, where he will be having a solo exhibition in 2014. Morley was also included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2010, 2009, and 2006, the Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany in 2007, and at the Sammlung-Goetz Collection, Munich in 2006. Morley lives and works in Los Angeles.