Fog Reader

02.11 — 24.11.2018

From Marienbad to Sofies gate

Over the past couple of years Lars Morell has worked extensively on his series “Shadow Canvas”. Morell’s work has over this whole period been influenced by questions regarding what’s covered and hidden, what’s visible and invisible, and what seems like something that it’s not. The project initially started with a series of painting where the motifs were collected from- and inspired by illusionism, spiritism, psychic mediums and cinematic and photographic representations of such phenomenon. The series thus started with a clear thematic framework, but gradually developed into a more intuitive process.

In numerous exhibition this iconography has been explored and developed on paper and canvas, and later in Morell’s iconic bronze sculptures where minutely shaped draping appear to be covering more and less recognizable objects. In the exhibition Porta’s Description (2013) at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Morell exhibited amongst other works a series on paper that appeared to be old movie posters hung front to back against the wall, so that the motifs were barely visible through the paper. One could see glimpses of magicians from the 20th century, often mid-way in classic tricks such as the levitating woman.

The original framework for the series Morell has worked on over the past ten years started with the artist attempting to navigate abstract painting’s eternal problem: having to defend its own existence. Through an illusion as the instigating metaphor, in combination with the conversations happening around painting in the 2010’s, it soon developed into a thematic doubling of the question about whether an illusion (and thus also a painting in itself) per definition is trickery or deception.

Morell’s images have gradually moved closer and closer towards abstraction. The motifs to be found in his present paintings can be seen as zoomed-in, often scaled and layered, details from the periphery of his earlier, more theatrical and narrative motifs. One can see light sources, vegetation, possibly ropes and other objects. It has thus developed into a process where the images more and more often were composed via painterly principles of form rather than conceptual character. As the motifs gradually has grown less concrete, they have also become freer and more open for the onlookers individual point of reference. Today the Shadow Canvases constitute a kind of paradox; they are extremely precise executions of something very vague. The visual cloudiness is played out in a visual universe seemingly existing in deep waters, where the line between what’s visible and almost out of sight is increasingly muddled.

The paintings can be seen as shadows of still lives or as though there is an invisible filter between the motif and us as viewers, a filter it feels impossible to define whether exists in the motif, on the canvas or somewhere within our own sight. Without there being no reference to trompe l’oeil, there are visual qualities of a whole new world created within the canvases, and that this space despite primarily operating in the surface, have an unusaual depth, like the visually unstable qualities one can experience surrounded by fog. This visual bewilderness creates a tension in the works, at the same time as they are simply hanging there on the wall completely unruffled by their own abilities. There is a fascination mismatch between the works’ elegance and their ability to create an immersive optic illusion.

Where Morell started by staging and contextualizing the story about “migic” as metaphore, we are now more confronted with an increasingly more dreamlike than analytical visual universe. In the end the works are more about the fog-like environment as a difficult terrain to navigate in, also for the artist himself, and the series as a virtuous improvisatioan, where the motifs can be compared with a jazz musician’s treatment of melodic elements when they go from bebop to free jazz. The works are thereby an act where the artist increasingly relinquish control, or rather letting the works be made on a less conscious basis, and hence is more present in the works. The paintings is the result of Morell’s movement through the physical and metaphysical mist constituting life itself.

The text is originally written in Norwegian.

Kunstverket er innkjøpt av Rev Ocean
Kunstverket er innkjøpt av Sørlandet Kunstmuseum

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