press release

Kimmerich is pleased to announce the gallery’s second solo exhibition with Ivan Morley.

For this exhibition, Ivan Morley will present nine new pieces expanding on his previous Tehachepi (sic), and A True Tale groups of paintings, as well as his latest Mask works.

Much has been written about Morley’s use of a wide array of conventional and non-traditional painting techniques and materials, mixing oil paint, personal lubricants or embroidery on canvas or unusual supports like glass or leather. These serve to explore a particular set of pictorial issues, to reach compositional goals Morley set himself for each new artwork; whether they are entirely abstract as with the “thread” paintings or mix figurative elements with a non-representational background, such as in the Mask group. In these the evolution of the face-like shape in relationship to the backgrounds shows various degrees of integration and disintegration of the apparent object of the painting. A grotesque face that could as easily refer to a horror movie as to a heavy metal record cover looks like it is detached and floating into space in one of the paintings; in another it seems to dissolve and become one with its abstract surroundings, a unified backdrop made from hundreds of squat brushstrokes in subdued colors.

At first glance, the artworks look entirely dissimilar in style, unrelated to each other. The serenity of the “thread” paintings with their large swathes of color vaguely evokes a marriage between a Clyfford Still and a Hans Hoffman painting. The bizarre incomplete bodies standing within a circle in the new Tehachepi (sic), with its empty background, floating body parts and objects (tobacco pouch, sunglasses, sledgehammer, etc), suggest Robert Crumb under the influence of Surrealism rather than elegant Postwar Abstract Expressionist masters.

The distinctive features we find in those two types of painting are united within the Mask series, with its coarse and violent figurative lines painted over a delicate field of subdued paint patches. Likewise, the overall composition of A True Tale is constructed of several irregular parallelepipeds and triangles recalling the arrangement of the thread paintings, while the many painterly elements enclosed within those irregularly geometrical shapes mix abstract splotches with items resembling ears, teeth or mouths. These combinations of abstract and figurative shapes are not destined to be blended in, but to work together to achieve an eccentric, joyful result.

The apparent absurdity present in the combination of Morley’s complex visual vocabulary produces a joyous and raucous questioning of the history and limits of painting, inviting us to reconsider our own preconceptions about it.

Ivan Morley was born in Burbank, CA in 1966. He was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (B.F.A, 1989) and Art Center College of Design (M.F.A, 2000). Morley has exhibited widely in Europe and in the United States, and his work is in the collections of MOCA (Los Angeles) and K21 (Düsseldorf). He lives and works in Los Angeles.