Tuesday, April 7, 2009

REVIEW: Scott J.Morgan at Bennington Museum

by Bret Chenkin

Scott J. Morgan is the most recent artist featured in the local artist series at the Bennington Museum. Morgan is a painter who can best be described as abstract—in the tradition of Cubist design. They are mostly medium in size and conceived by thin applications of pigment, rubbed, or scumbled, or even dyed, onto the canvas, with webbings or loops of fine painterly lines serving as frameworks. His intent is to synchronize music with architecture in oil: he believes the spiral, the circle, and other primitive forms are essential in pursuing this combination. He alludes in his statement to improvisation and jazz, but his works appear more like a snapshot—a frozen gesture of the event—rather than a dynamic being-becoming moment. “Santa Elena” is a case in point, for the swerving contours of curvilinear sweeps harkens movement, but the perfection of composition and execution arrest the loops. The range of the show is from the lovely to the innocuous.

Morgan works two palettes—warm hues of ochre, umber, reds, even lime; and then cobalt blue, and dark browns. Colors are carefully related, and emotion is factored in through automatic line work. Themed paintings, such as “Noir I” and “Rapture” show a possible influence of Marden; while the morphed heads of “Closseau II” (one of the few portraits), evokes the passion of Bacon. The early work appears more evocative. “Blue Avenue”, 2002, with its impasto, and shaped geometric areas, is as successful passion play—and is closer to improvisation. The representation of 2009 are brighter, more abstract, though include horizontal lines suggesting landscapes. The roaming lines from the previous years are absent, and instead Morgan is relying on planes of color. They are warm, flat, yet vibrant.

Above: “Closseau II” 48x30, oil, 2004
Left: "Raprure I" 12x12, oil, 2004