Works on Paper
Opens: Saturday, March 9, 5-8 pm
Reception: Saturday, March 23, 5-8 pm
Artists Talk: Sunday, March 24, 2 pm
Space is limited, seats are reserved, please RSVP.
A catalog of the exhibit is available for purchase
Sunday March 10, 12-5 pm
On view Saturdays & Sundays 12- 6 pm
Through April 28
The Reading Room will be closed on April 20 & 21st for Passover and Easter
Working overtime. Working over time. They sound the same, but connote different temporal states. Both apply to the painters and their works in this exhibit.
What does it mean to make a painting over time? What does devotion to one’s practice extended over a lifetime entail? To painters Clarence Morgan and David Rich, each in their sixth decade, time has become compressed, with a degree of urgency about its limitations and passage.
Yet both are known to, without reluctance or hesitation, revisit work done decades ago, to pick up their tools and search within both dimensions of painting and of time, of then and of now. Nothing is fixed, everything is up for grabs. Time collapses and the dialogue commences. As one day merges into the next, as each year melds into another, their work in the studio continues overtime and over time, yet is enacted in the here and now.
And in time, the paintings will be all that remain. Within the abstraction, the residual marks add up to signs and signals, visual occurrences and references. Old hands painting alongside younger selves, trains of thought picked up, clarified, informed and strengthened by years and years of working- a form of talking to one’s self, over time.
The resultant images become meditation devices, bold assertions or quiet murmurs of being, resolved, but not static, forces with lyrical movement residing within a compressed space, offering room for thought and for eyes to wander and explore. Within these paintings, time operates on its own schedule in relation to the viewer, offering first the immediate read, and then the slow reveal that rewards durational looking.
Clarence Morgan and David Rich are painters who have worked for decades in both the studio and the classroom. Their devotion to painting and teaching brought them together decades ago in Minneapolis where they both arrived to work, teach and raise their families.
Longtime colleagues, Clarence and David were co-founders of what was known early on as the Painter’s Group, formed in Minneapolis in 1993 along with other local painters of various persuasions to generate dialogue exploring issues in contemporary painting. The purpose was not to critique each other, but to discuss the questions raised by their work and the possibilities for painting to address a range of concerns. Meeting in each other’s studio amongst peers, the ongoing conversations evolved organically and became a crucial source of discourse that was lacking outside academia at that time. It was an environment that was counter to the isolation of the studio and offered painters a space for the paintings to exist in a larger context.
The various aesthetic and ideological points of view were united by a commitment and willingness to share opinions, enthusiasm, arguments and reading materials. Despite the various approaches to their work, the common bond was the sustained visual engagement involved in making and reading the work. This gave rise to the Painter’s Group taking on the name Necessary Differences on the occasion of a group exhibition at Katherine Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1995.
It also reinforced a strong practice of personal inquiry around the work that remains central and ongoing to participating artists’ practice. Despite the eventual hiatus of Neccesary Differences, Clarence and David continue to check in with each other around the work, while keeping their own counsel with that of their paintings. In other words, the act of painting is, for each of them, a solitary conversation between and within the paintings they continue to wrestle with over time.
Of his work, Clarence states:
The latest drawings are a composite of older works from thirty years ago and a matrix of new linear structures layered over the surface. The results are complex compositions that randomly juxtapose blurred organically drawn elements that reside underneath with sharp geometric linear configurations that suggest a suspended diagram. Without knowing if the two different linear languages would connect, I decided to experiment to see if a visual conversation was possible. I was interested in the unexpected aspects of this confluence of marks and if there was something compatible. I am specifically referring to the always-negotiable formal decisions that direct the path of each drawing right up to the very end.
Of his paintings, David states:
These paintings take shape over time, in both making and seeing them. This involves decisive changes made quickly, but also a slow aspect. Both require different kinds of fearlessness. This attitude is not about aesthetic refinement. Rather, it remains rooted in urgency, making the changes necessary to bring out the implicit underlying content more clearly.
Improvised in the present-tense space of abstract painting, they evolve organically, unpredictably, yet according to very specific content. Not literal, but specific. The visual decisions are often out in front of any fixed or pre-determined image. Improvisation combines with intention, the resulting painting taking on something of the density of lived experience.
Seeing is a durational process, linked with thinking, breathing, walking, working, struggle and dance. The paintings appear to shift as implied connections and ghost images assert an alternate read. They become like elemental bits of compressed time. Contemplative places, rooted in experience. Evocative and provocative, work to be with, upon the slow read.
This exhibit continues the ongoing dialogue between these two painters as well. Old hands conversing since younger selves, trains of thought picked up, clarified, informed and strengthened by years and years of working and visiting with each other over time. It’s time to share this conversation beyond the studio walls for those who want to listen, can see in the paintings what has been said over time.
Clarence Morgan’s website: www.clarence-morgan.com
David Rich’s website: www.davidrich.net