Stillness is marked in the paintings of Simon Morris and the quietude of each surface invites reflection in return. Morris’s meditative process, whether painting on a support or directly on the gallery wall, underscores the gentle rhythms of both body and breath to emphasise a physicality connecting image and space. Allusions to light, gravity and the occupation of time connect his oeuvre to cool-headed modes of conceptual abstraction, in particular the perceptual practices of the light and space artists, including Robert Irwin and James Turrell.
Morris has recently returned from a residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco after winning the Fulbright-Wallace Arts Trust Award in 2016. The influence of this residency experience is visible in these new works. Soaking up plenty of California sun, Morris walked and 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 into the work, while creating an immersive sense of colour. The panels are made from Scandinavian plywood of Baltic birch and poplar, which also reference Morris’s 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. Set firmly in the present, the work focuses on the condition of being present. They invite the viewer to tune in, to watch the falling light shimmer across the surface, to slow down and experience painting in time.