The exhibition Colour Order by Simon Morris offers a broad array of chromatic reflections that test the eye and the mind. There is something rhythmic in Morris’s latest geometric abstractions. The resolute simplicity and repetition of his compositional choices allows colour to take centre stage as it shifts from translucent through to more opaque paint. These new Colour Order paintings suggest a shift across the surface from dark to light, however the logic is disrupted through colour saturation and temperature. Taking a methodical and systemic approach to painting, Morris has stated previously in reference to his Pause paintings that this methodology “ creates images that I wouldn’t come up with myself. It’s like the system partly makes the work.” These new works bounce off that notion. The painterly process looks to be orderly for there is a precision and flawlessness to the works. Yet, there is an open engagement with the fluidity of paint and decisions around colour. In fact, these paintings can be described as distinctly ‘hand made’.
Morris typically favours a reduced palette, making works in gradients of one or two particular hues. However, the present collection of paintings is bolder in terms of colour combinations. For example, works such as Colour Order 5, feature bands of saturated yellow alongside striations of grey, while Colour Order 8 exposes a ribbon of dusky pink positioned between lines of variegated grey. While these works do present a departure from the earlier more monochromatic paintings, consistencies in Morris’s practice remain. Time and colour continue to be governing principles in the artist’s notion of painting, as well as guiding his methodology. As with Morris’s earlier paintings, the compositional structures of the present canvases testify to the passage of time. Marching sequentially across the canvas ground, each band of colour points to a specific moment in time, and also to the unique engagement of the artist with the canvas at that moment. These paintings are often “made in a single studio session, focusing time and allowing edges to bleed and exchange tone where the brushstrokes meet.” The formative influence of the minimalist masters Sol Le Witt and Donald Judd continues to be present in Morris’s use of geometric forms and repetition.
It can be seen in the vertical stripes that intersect each work, as well as in the smaller,
neatly bisected paintings.
Simon Morris majored in Painting at Ilam School of Fine Arts University of Canterbury, graduating in 1984. He was conferred a MFA from RMIT, Melbourne in 1997. With an established exhibition history, both in New Zealand and internationally, Morris continues to be held in high regard as a conceptual abstract painter and an academic. Morris currently lives and works in Wellington as Senior Lecturer, BFA Programme Leader at Massey University. His most recent project, the large scale installation Black Water Colour Painting, opened at SOFA Ilam Campus Gallery, School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, in June this year.
1 As quoted in Martin Patrick, Simon Morris: Black Water Colour Painting 2015. Exhibition catalogue, Christchurch: Ilam Campus Gallery, 2015, p.1.2.
2 Simon Morris, 2013