March 18 - April 23, 2022
Corbett vs. Dempsey is pleased to present #29, an exhibition of new paintings by Rebecca Morris. This is Morris's third solo show with the gallery. Additionally, she has been the subject of a 2020 Big Dig online exhibition, and a 2018 CvsD Condo presentation hosted by Bortolami in New York City.
Rebecca Morris is fiercely committed to abstract painting. For the past 21 years her paintings have borne numerical titles to avoid adding extraneous verbal imagery or associations to the paintings themselves. The work is what it is, which is radiant, challenging, and satisfying. Keeping in this vein, #29 is Morris's twenty-ninth solo exhibition, continuing her investment in the possibilities for metallic delineated grids, angular geometric shapes, vibrant washes of color, checkerboard fields, and textured surfaces that jostle for space.
The devil is in the details in Morris works, which always richly repay attentive viewing. The eight large-scale paintings and one smaller canvas included in #29 move into new terrain from past series of paintings in the myriad ways they grapple with transitions. Harder borders now contain ambiguities they might previously have abjured, while in other places the transitional features are bold but grapple with increasingly complex implications of space. Passage from one area into another is a magical formulation in these paintings – for instance the way the irregular bright silver edge on Untitled (#08-21) sits atop another darker interior silver border, creating a mysterious two-step transition into the thinly-brushed black matrix at the composition’s center, within which vivid fragmentary parts float like a conglomerate puddingstone. In places that one might anticipate a sharp transition, like between the puzzled-together parts of Untitled (#02-21), Morris thwarts the obvious by using a soft edge, generating lots of lustrous painterly energy where the tectonic plates meet.
Morris is acutely aware of how expectation functions in the experience of viewing a painting, the subtle ways that pattern and repetition, rupture and interruption, the general play of continuity and discontinuity, and even literal framing devices conspire to instigate formal drama. Seven of these paintings feature beautiful low-relief impasto metallic lines that grid diaphanous space, articulate a border—or both. Untitled (#01-21) and Untitled (#11-21) interrogates a checkerboard pattern, introducing complicated brushwork into its seemingly negative spaces.
This is the largest group of Morris paintings that CvsD has yet shown, among them the largest paintings as well, facilitated by the ceiling height in the ground-floor space that the gallery has inhabited since 2019. Size is essential to certain canvases, as Morris explained in her Big Dig interview, where she laid out core concerns specific to the oil paintings: “extreme scale, detailed compositional strategies, and very determined color relationships.” The largeness of some of these works – the tallest is nearly ten-feet in height – permits the intense particularity of the colors and the complexity of the compositions to phase-shift from being a discrete object of observation into a phenomenon of vibratory immersion. These are somatic paintings. Within the expanse of a large canvas, minute incident and casual gesture gain significance, drawing the eye and mind deep into their domain of fascination.
The opening reception will be held on Friday, March 18, 5 - 7 PM.