|Reviews: Malcolm Morley
ARTnews, May 2006, pp. 170-171
1 May 2006
Whether depicting a car crash or a thundering phalanx of racehorses urged on by their brightly uniformed jockeys, Malcolm Morley's visceral recent paintings took vibrant, athletic, and even violent movement through space as their subject. The imagery formed a dynamic culmination to this perceptive survey of more than 40 works dating from 1965 to 2005.
The show included Morley's early photorealist paintings, which he preferred to call "superrealistic" in homage to Kasimir Malevich's pioneering Suprematist art. In SS Amsterdam in front of Rotterdam and Ship's Dinner Party (both 1966), Morley captured the bold colors and glossy surfaces of the offset-printed promotional materials used to advertise cruise-ship glamour.
Over time he has replaced the brittle elegance of these scenes with bright confusion and grisly subject matter. Death of Dale Earnhardt (2003) and The Art of Painting (2005) were both inspired by an Associated Press photograph of the 2001 collision that killed the famous racecar driver. Morley, clearly enthralled by the lush colors and textures of paint, rendered the cars' creased metal and smoky haze with a smoldering intensity. While his earlier paintings brought to mind the static clarity of a mechanical reproduction, here Morley suggested how the camera can capture cataclysmic motion.
This exhibition was the third in a series of solo shows curated by museum director and chief curator Bonnie Clearwater, following surveys of the work of Roy Lichtenstein and Richard Artschwager. She has keenly analyzed the ways in which all three used photographs and photographic reproductions to break away from Abstract Expressionism, and how each in his own way used painting to riff on the verisimilitude of a photograph.
- Elisa Turner