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Impressive Julia Morison Sampler

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Julia Morison, Decan, Eternity, 1989, oil on wood, 2770 x 3800 mm Julia Morison, Accessories for a Soft Machine, Apertures 1, 1987, photographed collage Julia Morison, Head[case], 117- We have an issue, 2018, glazed porcelain, 290 x 145 mm Julia Morison, Head[case], 093 - Reconstructing Golem, 2018, glazed stoneware, dimensions variable Julia Morison, Head[case], 028 - Olfactory whispers, 2015, glazed stoneware, rope, wool, 290 x 370 x 200 mm Julia Morison, Curious thing, 2011, recycled plastic, stool, cement and silt, 1240 x 400 Julia Morison, Missing thing, 2011, bird cage, table, plug & silk cloth, 540 x 480 x 280 mm Julia Morison, Angel/Fly, Print - Carapace, 2002, unlimited digital print, 120 x 100 mm Julia Morison, Angel/Fly, Print - Raiment, 2002, unlimited digital print, 120 x 100 mm Julia Morison, Centrefold 15, 2000, ‘Dragon’s blood’ ink and pastel on bible paper, 175 x 230mm, framed 320 x 365mm Julia Morison, Gargantua's Petticoat, Lola, 2006, acrylic on aluminium polythene laminate, 2000 x 2400 mm Julia Morison, Gargantua's Petticoat, Oolala, 2006, acrylic on aluminium polythene laminate, 2400 x 2400 mm Julia Morison, Gobsmack & Flabbergast, Which Hand?, 2005, acrylic on aluminium polyurethane laminate, 1200 x 1200 mm Julia Morison, Flipside, 5, 2015, acrylic and ink on canvas, 1200 x 1000 mm Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery. Installation shot of Julia Morison's In Hindsight at Trish Clark Gallery. Photo: Sait Akkirman. Courtesy of Trish Clark Gallery.

As you might expect, all these multiple projects are somehow interconnected: some older themes examined; various tangential interests pulled in and expanded; other apparently unrelated preoccupations revealing surprisingly unanticipated materials, formal structures, conceptual links or narrative overlaps. Plus her humour is very evident: especially with the later smaller paintings about speech.

Auckland


Julia Morison
In Hindsight


8 October - 17 December 2022

It is now sixteen years since the magnificent Julia Morison survey, a loop around a loop--a cluster of ten plus one exhibitions curated by Justin Paton and Felicity Milburn—was presented in the municipal art institutions of Christchurch and Dunedin. (Astonishingly, it never toured to North Island venues, but possibly key collector-owners were reluctant to extend loans.)

In that massive exhibition we saw the typical Morison trademarks of Kabbalistic organising structures, use of ten symbolic (often bodily) substances, and for ideational content, ‘corporate’ modernist logos that could be interlocked in pairs—all synthesised into striking (but each highly individual) projects.

This current Trish Clark show is a display of some of the unsold (but still remarkable) pieces from dealer presentations linked to that earlier project, mingled with highlights (In Hindsight) from other exhibitions since.

Many of those exhibitions involved not only painting but sculpture. Included here in this sampler are forty-three such three-dimensional items of varying size; some freestanding or suspended, others on plinths, shelves, or walls. Some too showing Morison‘s inventive use of solidified sludge made from recycled supermarket bags mixed with liquefaction from the catastrophic Christchurch earthquake.

Also conspicuous is Morison‘s flair for intricate drawing, textured abstract watercolours, and evocative collage. The richly detailed ink drawing is very prominent.

As you might expect, all these multiple projects are somehow interconnected: some older themes examined; various tangential interests pulled in and expanded; other apparently unrelated preoccupations revealing surprisingly unanticipated materials, formal structures, conceptual links or narrative overlaps. Plus her humour is very evident: especially with the later smaller paintings about speech.

Two stand-out works from the original survey are the two intricate cyber-corporeal paintings from Gobsmack and Flabbergast, 2005; and three parts of Gargantua’s Petticoat, 2006 which presented spectacular linear arabesques resulting from drawing software. Of the shows represented since the survey, particularly distinctive are the fourteen presented Centrefold works (2000) with their Rorschach-like inky stains and sweeping loops (first shown in the Second Auckland Triennial), and the sculptures using birdcages, an ironing-board, a stool, and recycled plastic bags and liquefaction of Meet Me on the Other Side, 2011, shown at Two Rooms.

Clark’s venue is cleverly used to allow Morison get the most of the space, so that the works benefit. In the middle room for example, Eternity, 1989, the hefty Magritte-influenced, glyph-loaded painting, leans against the wall, optically tunnelling through it but with a painted velvet museum rope barring ‘bodily’ entry through the picture plane, and a small delicate birdcage painting physically inserted into a larger painted cage in its centre.

Aptly two surrealist sculptures featuring birdcages are positioned in real space on the opposite side, along with a freestanding stool bearing a frayed and disgusting ET head of plasticky, pooey sludge, poised to strike like a cobra, and an ironing board featuring on top a snapped-off phallic stalagmite made of resin, a suspended stalactite below, and a hovering breast made of a sieve. On another side, we see ten Edicts, 1998, declamatory moralising tablets about prohibitions unspecific—but made in symbolic materials-that like Eternity are leaning on a wall, but under a window.

Precise positioning is also obvious in the gallery’s front room with its reception office and street-side windows. Three canvases (Flipside, 2015) with pale grey, bulbous, tuberlike forms, drawn over with ink—accompanied by parallel stripes of silver metallic paint—are positioned on the wall opposite the windows, so that the racetrack silver bands suddenly decrease in tone as you move past, or in the other direction, rapidly glowing with bursts of incandescent illumination, and even acquiring subtle reflected colour.

Wildly varied, yet clearly produced by a single highly inventive sensibility, this rich complicated array of selected projects, containing both examples of impressive spectacle and small very close intimacy, makes compulsive lingering.

John Hurrell

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