Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery
Ken Morgan, Multiple Page Drawing #4, Ink on Paper, 2006
"Out of Thin Air"
featuring Ken Morgan
September 6 through October 17
This exhibition of drawings and paintings reflects an evolution of over ten years of work by Ken Morgan. With the basic formula of a line and a curve, the artist explores the potentiality of space, time, and movement. The function of line in Morgan's work is not to describe form but to invent space, not its architecture, but its character and dimensions created by the events and activities we perform in it.
Morgan's early upbringing as a member of his family's circus acrobatic group is pivotal to many of the works. Experiences like, as a child, being balanced in a basket at the end of a ten-foot pole perched on his father's chin, and later, as a young man, doing headstands at the end of a similar pole have given him a unique understanding of the relationship of forms to one another and to space. Works from the "Scribble Room" and "One Act" series depict events involving precarious balancing and continual motion. The intensity and exuberance of the forms and mark making in these work balances between control and chaos, recalling not only circus performances but also life experiences.
Inherent to the process and appearance of the work are a spontaneous series of actions, each dependent on and a result of the one that came before. This structuring, its visual patterning, recalls, too, those of stars in constellations and atomic structures. The play of time as relates to modern physics is also evident in the work, with past and present events being shown to us simultaneously as well what they suggest for the future.
Some viewers might locate references to the body as well as sexual activity in works where enclosed spaces are filled with intense activity. It is interesting to note that many of the drawings were done by the artist while in bed. An unusual location for art making perhaps, but a site designed for the body and welcoming to sexual activity. Indeed, there is a voyeuristic quality to some of the work, which recalls Hoppers interior spaces. There is a level of intimacy in the work that while universal conceptually is also personal in nature. We peer into spaces established by minimal linear frame work, or through torn entranceways pierced by the artists repeated pressing of his pen, to find activities that tell tales of play, danger, isolation and joy.
The history and process involved in Ken Morgan's work prove him to be a performance artist of sorts. After presenting a series of earlier minimal abstract works that utilized compositional framing, viewers told Morgan they saw the images as rooms. While for him the works were about the relationships between lines and curves, in response to viewers he created events within the frames. Then he made doorways because "there had to be a way into the rooms." People understood and were interested in the doorways and these became the subject of several series of drawings. The artist then, in a sense, returned to the beginning by isolating small compositional abstractions in the drawings and developing them into completed works.
There is much being celebrated in these works, and as well as, in number of them, a measure of melancholy. How lines and curves intersect one another is continually explored and tested in these works. And if there is a pattern to the coming together of these elements it is only evident when they have been fully pushed to reveal it. This is terribly messy work, rendered with brute strength and nerves of steel.
Romper Room #2, 6''x6'', Ink on Paper, 2004
Outside Act, 22'x 30', mmcb, 2002
For additional information, contact: Susan Classen-Sullivan