Pard Morrison: Warp & Weft
An exhibition of new work by Pard Morrison will open at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art on August 1 and extend to August 31. An opening reception with the artist will be on Friday, August 2, from 5-7 p.m. at the gallery, which is located at 554 S. Guadalupe in the Railyard Art District.
Bright lines weave through and over each other, each line made of different colors, one giving way to the next: blue to yellow to red; red to pink to gray to violet. The effect is of a precarious balance between quietude and activity.
It is this meeting of diverse elements – woven together to make a whole — that forms the underlying theme to Morrison’s aptly named exhibition of new works, Warp and Weft. The tall slim aluminum pillar from which the exhibition has taken its name – white, lined horizontally and vertically by these stitched, colored lines, exemplifies a shift in visual language for Morrison; while the title itself also directly references the exploration of an entirely new medium for Morrison: painting on canvas.
Those familiar with Morrison’s previous work will immediately note the distinctive shift. Morrison has long worked with 1/8-inch aluminum plate – cutting and welding the pieces himself to create both sculpture and wall works which he hand-paints with enamels and then heat cures in industrial ovens. The unraveled-puzzle-box shapes of the wall works were painted in solid geometric sections of color.
The new works focus more on painting – with the grid pattern appearing throughout the works in the show, though seen from different angles or heights. Some, like the small metal wall pieces, give us only bits of grid – as if Morrison has zoomed in on one small piece of a vast network. Others, like the large canvas work Flowers for Brains, have the opposite effect, showing the multiplicity of grids as if seen from a distance.
While the visual shift is quite distinct, the more time one spends with the work, the more one can see the way Morrison’s new series lifts off from older ones. There is a sense that, with previous works, these grid patterns were there all along – only invisible, hiding behind those geometric puzzle-patterns. Now, lifted out to the surface, this woven pattern feels like a mystery brought gently up into the light to be examined.
In speaking about the new work, Morrison noted that it had arisen out of questions about the nature of human life and change. Like the warp and weft of his grid patterns, Morrison suggests that there are two forces at work in life: the fundamental characteristics of who we are and the aspects of our selves which are malleable. Life, chance, circumstance, opportunity, disaster – these weave in and around that fundamental, stationary warp of us, shifting our lives into new directions, creating new patterns. For Morrison, each new shift of color in the gridlines represents some new element, new experience, feeling, idea, energy, entering into the pattern.
Perhaps the most direct reference to this exploration is with the 80 x 80 canvas work, Lieutenant Dan. Graphite, acrylic, and gesso on canvas, the piece gives us a view of 6 grid lines. The colors, ranging from strong primaries to fainter pastels, red through pink, gray through blue, have found a moment of perfect balance – not unlike the referenced character from the movie Forrest Gump, who despite all the challenges of his life, finally finds a moment of peace, floating in the ocean.
Which highlights another aspect of the works in Warp and Weft – time. The energy of the lines, the color shifts, contribute to a feeling of flow and movement. While earlier series may have dealt more directly with space – these works seem to actively engage with time. The sense is that Morrison has captured these energies in the briefest moment of rest. What we are seeing are not finished patterns but unfolding ones, caught in an instant before they begin to move and shift and change yet again.