The earlier paintings depicted the interiors of homes and public spaces such as a station or a gymnasium as well as domestic landscapes. They present images from a previous era, mainly the 1930s and 40s, and have an atmosphere reminiscent of those in works by Edward Hopper. They are figurative in the sense that the subject matter is easily recognizable, yet the works are unpopulated. Robert Morris has incorporated figures into his new works mainly in the form of vintage photographic images, however, a feeling of distance remains, as there is no direct interaction between the people in these photographs and the rest of the composition. In fact, the figures in photographs seem almost voyeuristic giving the viewer a sense of unease as they stare through window panes and out of frames hung on the walls.
Often the people in the photographs are of the artist’s close or immediate family, which brings a form of reality and memory into compositions that could otherwise be viewed as purely imaginative. As in the pieces from Small Fires these paintings continue to have unknown light sources, deep shadows and ‘small fires’; a fireplace is often the focal point of many of the works.Robert Morris continues to explore the idea of memory, a long-standing theme in his work. His new paintings build on the atmosphere he creates: a place where reality mixes with memory and fantasy yet somehow the world he creates seems to stand still.
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