Jennifer Morrison

Jennifer Morrison’s work deals predominantly with colour and shape. She uses these elements to explore juxtaposition, repetition, movement and rhythm. Although she has lived in London for two decades, the colours of South Africa have never left her and remain a central influence in her work.

Whether it is a plant or clouds or smudges on a wall, these can all serve as inspiration for her and act as a starting point for a painting. Her inspiration comes from the world around her and then it becomes something of its own. It is sifted through her memory and her imaginings. Her paintings are devoid of content or narrative which precludes any single meaning or view. Gerhard Richter said that the most successful paintings are the ones that remain incomprehensible. She has an empathy with this viewpoint, with work which does not invite a single reading because being too specific about meaning can limit understanding or feeling for a work. For her, painting is about exploring the invented object in front of her. The formal qualities of abstract painting are significant not in themselves but as part of a work’s expressive message.

This quote, again by Richter, is one which resonates with her:

‘ I mean the glorifying way we look at nature – nature, which in all its forms is always against us, because it knows no meaning, no pity, no sympathy, because it knows nothing and is absolutely mindless: the total antithesis of ourselves, absolutely inhuman.’

Symbolic representation is a fluid sign capable of containing whatever projection is fired at it. If meaning and associations are made of her work by an observer, that is fine but she is not seeking to create meaning.

Morrison has always been more interested in colour and shape and materials than in social or political or personal commentary or content. She likes the way that abstraction allows for ambiguity. She does not need or want definitive answers or didactic explanations. She prefers meaning, if it is found at all, to be open. She is wary of being pinned down. What excites her when she is painting is what one colour does to another and what they do in a space. Her work is subjectively driven and is guided largely by intuition. She alternates between making premeditated marks on the canvas and relinquishing control, allowing the painting to speak for itself in a sense. She has to be daring and ready to fail. She knows within herself whether she has been courageous or not.

When I paint I am in control of the process up to a point. I choose to relinquish control at certain stages but I’m ‘watching’ this process very carefully. I’m in charge of the accidents to some extent and it’s this dance of chaos and control that intrigues me. The freedom is controlled. All of this has to happen with a lack of self-consciousness otherwise everything comes to a halt. I like to give the alchemy of painting a chance. This intersection of order and chaos endlessly fascinates me.

Jennifer Morrison catalogue: ‘Spring’

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By Jennifer Morrison



By Jennifer Morrison