|Malcolm Morley, Sperone Westwater
Time Out New York, p. 44
28 May 2009
Post-Pop artist Malcolm Morley likes to make things difficult for himself. A self-described painter of modern life, and in particular its spectacles, he pushes his medium to the limits of its capacity to represent the world. After 50 years of continually reinventing his art, hes arrived at a state that seems simultaneously one of grace and one of determined free fall.
Morleys last show of new work here, in 2005, comprised high-drama images of sporting events, and marked a return to the superrealism of his work from the 1960s and 70s. His current show, inspired by NASCAR and motocross racing, takes a lot more risks. At one extreme, the monumental "Texas Swing" depicts a line of colorfully suited motorbike riders with hallucinogenic clarity even as it deliquesces into a matrix of abstract passages. At the other, "Blue Boyz" features a weirdly dreamlike group of identical blue-suited riders cresting a muddy hill. From a hole ripped in the canvass center, a three-dimensional version of another such figure explodes forth. In its deadpan literalness and clunkiness, the work almost qualifies as outsider art. Holding down its own room and looking like a three-dimensional lobby display is another piece: a strange, life-size paper sculpture of a helmeted stuntman jumping through a ring of fire.
One of two glorious watercolor paintings of NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardts fatal accident bears the title "The Art of Painting". For Morley, making art will always be a daredevil sport. To paraphrase David Bowie, hes always crashing in the same car. And hes always walking away.