Reflex Gallery in Amsterdam is thrilled to announce the first solo show in the Netherlands by American sculptor Joel Morrison. The Los Angeles based artist has earned international acclaim for his highly polished composite sculptures cast in stainless steel. Reflex presents a selection of recent work, as well as four new and unseen pieces. The exhibition runs from 6 May until 11 July.
On the occasion of this exhibition the gallery has published a book with an essay written by art historian and writer Gay Gassmann. The book gives an overview of Morrison’s work from 2001 to 2017. The artist will be present during the opening to sign his book.
Classical busts adorned with a forest of anvils, a cheekily positioned croissant, or other incongruous street objects. A giant weather balloon stuffed into a shopping cart. A punched-in disco ball in a bear trap. Immediately funny, arresting pieces that draw the viewer in, inviting a raft of association and meaning.
At first, the pure sheen of these sculptures is what dazzles; the slick, flawless finish and the instant humour reminds of Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Sherrie Levine and other pop-art giants.
“You have to laugh it off first, before you can have a serious conversation,” Morrison says, inviting us to look again. The weather balloon is in fact the sort that carries information about atmospheric pressure back to earth; the shopping cart a symbol of the disenfranchised, an LA homeless person pushing their belongings by the side of the road.
High and low; street and science; the future and the present. All these ideas suggested and explored in one work. But Morrison isn’t forcing the point – he invites the viewer to draw their own conclusion, to enjoy the work on whichever level they land at.
Just as Morrison explores concepts of high and low art, his own production methods contain that same dichotomy. Morrison came to the idea of stainless steel out of a fascination with a certain 1960s west coast aesthetic – a movement known as Light and Space – and wanted to explore the idea of reflective surfaces in his work.
Looking around him in downtown LA, the shiniest of the shiny were the polished-up car bumpers and tyre rims. And it was via the car industry there he found the expertise to cast his works into steel, in an industrial foundry. He works in close partnership with a team of industrial craftsmen who polish metal in body shops and factories – far from the usual art-school trained apprentices in some Koons-esque atelier. By assembling his collages and putting them through his unique process, that he could turn street objects into Hermes jewellery.
The beautiful, highly polished reflective surfaces of his work, constantly reabsorbing and refracting their surroundings are, as he puts it “far from monochrome. These are paintings that are always changing – appropriately for our ADD, time-poor world.”
Dystopian, complex, alluring – Morrison’s work is nothing if not contradictory. “I want people to look beyond the façade,” he says.
Joel Morrison was born in Seattle, Washington in 1976. He received a BA in English Literature at Central Washington University, and an MFA in sculpture at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA. In 2006, he was a featured artist in the California Biennial held at the Orange County Museum of Art, as well as a participant in the critically acclaimed Thing exhibition at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. In 2010, Morrison was featured in Six Solos at the Wexner Center for the Arts. His numerous other group and solo exhibitions have been at venues throughout the world including Gagosian Gallery; Almine Rech Gallery; the Kolbe Museum, Berlin; Haus Am Waldsee Museum, Berlin; and Santa Monica Museum of Art.
Gay Gassmann is an academically trained art historian and her art world career spans over 30 years as an art consultant, writer, and editor. She graduated with a B.A. in art history from the American University of Paris and received a master’s degree in the history of the decorative arts from the Cooper Hewitt/Parsons School of Design in New York City and spent two years in the Department of Decorative Arts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Gassmann is a passionate advocate for contemporary art. As the contributing art editor to T: The New York Times Style Magazine she contributes to the monthly page, ‘A Picture and A Poem’, and to art driven features.
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