Simon Morris

I watch the falling light

27 April - 26 May 2018


I watch the falling light

Simon Morris refers to his new body of work as ‘single action paintings’. The single action being, to pour a volume of fluid acrylic over a timber panel while rested flat, and then, swing it upright in a single motion to drip-dry vertically. Not that there are any visible drips evident on the panels, save the bead of paint along the bottom edge.

The paintings’ stillness is remarkable, their surfaces softly reflective and inviting reflection. His meditative process, whether painting on a support or directly on the gallery wall, emphasises the breath and the rhythmical movement of the body. Its physicality connects with aspects of the actual space the works exist in: light, gravity and the occupation of time. In this sense, they are connected to cooler modes of conceptual abstraction, in particular the perceptual practices of the Light and Space artists such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell.

Morris has recently returned from a residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco, as winner of the Fullbright-Wallace Arts Trust Award in 2016. The influence of this residency experience is visible in these new works, having soaked up plenty of California sun. Morris regularly walked in the natural environment of this region and also observed the shifting light from his studio window. The muted palette of Naples yellow, sienna, umber and yellow ochre drawn from the dusty ground and sky resonate in these new monochromes.

The works are hung low, referencing the body and drawing the tonality of the gallery floor in to the work, while creating an immersive sense of colour. The panels are made from Scandinavian plywood of Baltic Birch and Poplar, which also reference his Norwegian heritage. Their crafted supports, which enable the paintings to float off the wall, are constructed from a lattice of cross lap joints, the wood grain resonating with the palette of their surfaces and the adjacent wall paintings.

These works are grounded in action, and act as a visual and material record of that action. The work is set firmly in the present, and foregrounds the condition of being present. They are the product of an artist deeply committed to tuning in and inviting the viewer to do likewise: to watch the falling light of the surrounding environment shimmer across the surface, to slow down and experience painting in time.