February 19 - March 12, 2016
Omnium Gatherum suggests a gathering of many significant things, as this is. It is also the title of a series of paintings in Julia Morison’s new show, and the exhibition title overall.
In Omnium Gatherum, Morison presents new work alongside old, so on the centre wall for example, Centrefold 27 from 2000 hangs beside the just completed glass work A trifling investment of fact, while Amperzand in liquefaction, a work from 2011, is accompanied top and bottom by two small lead-framed photographs dated 1996.
This sounds various and it is. But coherence comes from two things: the works in the front gallery share the oval as their leitmotif of composition, and there is throughout a playful attitude to materials and subject matter, which is best described as surreal. Right through Morison’s practice, the beautiful and the abject come close, and the body whimsical rubs shoulders with the rigours of geometry. A sense of play bounces off any gravitas, and in Julia’s hand, line can be utterly controlled but also flicked, poured and left wonderfully curlicue. Found materials, meantime, are constantly recycled and re-presented as something fascinating and new.
Dulia is an important early work which has been exhibited only once before. Gold and excrement (Morison’s signature materials in the early 90’s) are pressed on to paper balls which have been threaded like beads on a rosary, to suggest a dulia - an incantation to the gods. This dulia is both very elegant and utterly irreverent at the same time.
Things yet to be named is a new work, with steel brackets that like ancient boat prows seem rusted by the ravages of time. Hung in easy rhythm as compass points around the wall, each stand offers a mysterious tableau. Domestic objects including strainers, funnels and threads are combined with a touch that is intimate, poetic and industrial. The work feels enigmatic and timeless – Byzantine almost. And Things seems just balanced but also in need of ongoing process.
Omnium Gatherum is collected together in the back gallery. It is a suite of paintings that will be 100 strong eventually. (This is typical of Morison, who particularly when working with the ten alchemical elements, has fashioned series in multiples of 10, up to 100, and even 1000 works.) Omnium Gatherum is a marvellous convocation, able to be displayed in a variety of ways. Julia’s playful sense of the organic is lodged firmly within structure and geometry. Colour is rich, varied and used often to maximize the shallow depth in these paintings. Lines trace everything from the tiniest of details to frameworks grand and architectural in scale. These panels recall earlier series such as No names for things no string for, and Gobsmack & Flabbergast, but there is here greater confidence and contrast between figure and ground, a more shimmery metallic feel, and throughout, Julia’s virtuoso use of the varnish crack/le lure.
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List of works
Things yet to be named, 2016
Missing thing, 2011