A reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, November 23 from 6-8 pm.
Over the past twenty-five years, Abelardo Morell has garnered international praise for photographs that render our everyday world a place of magic and wonder. Citing influences as varied as Ernest Hemmingway and Anselm Kiefer, John Cage and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Søren Kierkegaard and Minor White, he works with an intelligence that is neither glib nor obtuse, but rather grounded in an emotional sensitivity and unbounded intellectual curiosity. Morell photographs the world as it is, capturing it like a netted butterfly, vigorously alive yet eternally suspended within his camera's frame. He delights in the quiet life of objects, the spectacular beauty of the quotidian, the transformative power of light, and the transcendent promise of natural phenomena.
Abelardo Morell and his family fled Cuba in 1962 and relocated to New York City, a metropolis teeming with people and saturated with visual stimuli. His teenage years were colored by the alienation of an immigrant unable to speak the language, watching a foreign world from the street level window of his family's basement apartment. Morell attended Bowdoin College where he first encountered photography and developed a passion for literature and philosophy. While working towards his MFA at Yale University, he made quick acerbic images in the tradition of street photographers such as Diane Arbus and Gary Winogrand.
With the birth of his son Brady in 1986, Morell's work moved from the street to the domestic sphere, exchanging irony for earnestness. Looking at the world anew through the eyes of his child, Morell relaxed into a deliberate and meditative practice. Faced with the visual limitations of his apartment, Morell discarded the reactionary approach of his early work and adopted a deliberate and personal photographic method. The expansive freedom of the world outside allowed for visual indecision, but in pushing up against limitations, a unique and vigorous creativity was born. In the words of Kierkegaard, "He whose eye happens to look down the yawning abyss becomes dizzy...freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of the finite to support itself". By stepping away from the freedom's abyss, Morell learned to take nothing for granted, declaring every object and moment photographable. From this quiet simplicity grew a poetic and complex visual language that has defined his work in the subsequent decades.
For many years, alongside his artistic work, Morell taught photography at the Massachusetts College of Art. To explain the mechanics of a camera, Morell turned his classroom into a camera obscura. The literal translation from Latin being 'dark room', a camera obscura is a blacked out room with a small hole to let in light. The light traveling through the hole projects an inverted view of the outside world on the opposing wall. Photography's antecedent, the camera obscuraharnesses a natural phenomenon, containing an expansive landscape within four walls. In 1991, Morell reimagined this centuries-old practice by pointing a camera at this contained landscape, addressing the relationship between the projection and the room receiving it. In these photographs reality has doubled over upon itself, forming a dreamlike psychological space that is at once familiar and surreal.
Morell has continued to experiment with and refine this technique, positing and resolving visual, intellectual, and technical questions. In recent years, he grew increasingly frustrated by the limitations of the camera obscura, with its predetermined view, immovable and absolute. Morell yearned to step out of the room and walk in the landscape. Energized by this challenge, he designed a portable iteration of the camera obscura: a light tight tent with a periscope for a lens. The tent camera pulls the landscape onto the ground, overlaying a receding horizon onto a flattened plane. The shapes in the landscape and the texture of the earth balance abstraction and representation to form a new painterly landscape. Abelaro Morell marries the interior and the exterior, bringing the outside in.
ROSEGALLERY will be exhibiting a selection of prints that span the artist's career, providing a vantage point into the varied and rigorous oeuvre of this masterful photographer.