Morris is a visionary artist
Kevin Morris is a visionary artist. What do I mean by visionary?
Well, Paul Klee, the Swiss-German modernist, was given the same label.
He described his visionary art as making visible that which is hidden.
That is a very neat and simple way to sum up a very complicated issue. Does Morris fit this definition of visionary?
His complex compositions utilise multiple recognisable images, all chunked together.
At first sight, they often appear as abstract, but this approach to art-making suggests some kind of hidden meaning which, on contemplation, may yield a deeper understanding.
Of course, we the viewing public are free to bring to the work our own interpretation and this is perfectly valid and encouraged.
Morris’s creations can also be enjoyed as a kind of puzzle.
I suggest that when trying to ferret out some understanding, the viewer might consider the use of a chair.
It will require some thought and time.
Considering the meanings of Morris’s paintings, he usually works within a theme, such as Bermuda, safety matches, the Byzantine, etc.
That hint may be useful in understanding something of his art.
He is showing his latest paintings and collages as well as some older, previously shown work in the Onions Gallery at the Bermuda Society of Arts.
When first visiting the exhibition I felt overwhelmed, not by any particular painting but by the sheer number of paintings in the show.
Although I consider Morris one of Bermuda’s more engaging artists, as a whole, the exhibition would have been far more successful with fewer paintings and in a smaller gallery.
Altogether, the show consists of at least 89 paintings.
Given that the artist had undertaken to show in the Society’s main gallery, which is a large space, I understand that in order to fill it he felt obliged to also exhibit older, previously exhibited paintings.
This is unfortunate. Still, despite this, the show is definitely worth a visit.
At their best, Morris’s paintings are like a magic carpet or a Persian rug. Morris’s creations are a mix of techniques. Some are collage, others a mix of collage and paint or just paint.
His approach utilises highly obsessive details piled upon details, all hung together to create a sense of pattern. Indeed, one painting is pure pattern.
It is difficult to say how to locate this work, however, because most of his paintings are untitled and not numbered in the catalogue.
All his paintings are in acrylic. Several paintings stand out. Safety Matches utilises the collage technique to show the covers of safety match boxes.
Again, this is an overall composition. But why this interest in safety matches? Until now the safety match was something I generally took for granted.
This work actually caused me to research its history and what I learnt is that matches have been around for only a couple of hundred years and once they were not all that safe. They were initially called “Lucifers”.
Another painting/collage is of a Byzantine theme, entitled The Battle Between Them and Us.
It reflects something of the experience the artist had during his seven-year stay in Greece. This is possibly Morris’s most complex, labyrinthine painting; that in itself makes it appear particularly Byzantine.
Interspersed within the painting are numerous words that may explain what is going on, at least in that area of the painting.
The two paintings just mentioned are his largest works but there are other smaller ones, that also bring to mind Eastern Orthodox icons.
• Paintings by Kevin Morris runs in the Onions Gallery at the Bermuda Society of Arts until Monday
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