We asked featured artist Alex Gene Morrison to expand on his practice:
Hi Alex, there is so much going on in your work but it’s not always easy to unpick. Can you talk a little about your influences and intentions?
The work does contain many layers of reference points that have gathered and grown like a tumbleweed over the years. These range from Suprematism to video games to punk graphic design and all in between. This wide-ranging mix of interests and influences is important as I’m not aiming to make things that have one specific meaning or message that needs to be decoded or understood. I want the work to hint at a multiplicity of references whilst remaining somewhat an enigma. Everything is in a way a self-portrait of sorts and therefore things are always evolving and shifting. In much of the recent work there are often readable humanoid shaped motifs which could be seen interchangeably as being villains, heroes, antiheroes, monsters or demons but are of course essentially and most importantly an exploration of form and colour.
There’s a lot there, and despite your work being high impact it is also pared down, which is such a difficult combination to achieve. Are you thinking about essences or archetypes?
There has been a longstanding interest in archetypal imagery that abridge modern and ancient man. The resonance of something that feels totemic or primitive is something I am attracted to. However, it is vital that this is all mixed up with a glut of contemporary references in order to allow something hybrid that speaks of our times to emerge. Repetition is also important in order to try and find the essence of a particular motif or set of motifs.
In two of your new pieces you are using acrylic, spray paint, watercolour and ink. Can you tell us more about your choice of materials and why they are so varied? Is there a hierarchy of materials in your view?
I have always been very keen on experimenting with a wide range of materials and processes. I want to feel like I’m learning something and enjoy the unpredictability that new processes or combinations of materials can bring to the work. All of these different materials have their own specific strengths and so I use whatever feels appropriate at the time. For me personally there is absolutely no inherent hierarchy of materials, for example, felt tip pen on paper can easily be as powerful as oil paint on canvas. It’s what you do with the material that counts and that is why I don’t limit myself.
I’ve known your work for a long time now and I remember seeing large scale works on paper with mixed media including collage. What is it that appeals to you about working on paper?
For me working on paper generally helps to allow for a high level of experimentation and risk taking. I guess historically the idea of works on paper for a painter would be seen as being studies for further ‘finished’ works but for me are often the most exciting things to look at. Something about the directness and immediacy that seems achievable on paper is very seductive.
And finally, does working on paper feed into your painting? Is there a correlation?
Well, in relation to the last couple of answers, I very much see the works on paper as ‘paintings’ and don’t view them as any less than something that I might make with oil paint on canvas. But of course everything feeds into and helps inform everything else. In my case there are constant cross fertilisations between works on paper, oil paintings and digital animations that form a whole. Again, I find this multiplicity important in order to keep things moving and evolving.