TIO Denver: Jenny Morgan At PLUS Gallery
“Adding something fresh and necessary to the genre of portraiture may seem impossible, but in that realm, Jenny Morgan is crushing it. Don’t label her paintings figurative or photoreal. Her extraordinary skills for rendering the human figure are besides the point. Layers of the unconscious are revealed in the reductive abstraction of her portraits. As she grinds away at physical and metaphorical surfaces to uncover a spirit, an honest representation of “the feels” becomes visible. Many can approximate likeness, but no one can expose the soft center of the human core quite like Jenny Morgan,” Juxtapoz, September 2014
Plus Gallery opens the Fall exhibition season with The Golden Hour, the fifth solo exhibition by our most celebrated and collected painter Jenny Morgan. Morgan’s latest is not just one of the most anticipated exhibitions for Plus Gallery, but one of the most significant for Denver’s contemporary art community, marking the first time an artist from within has risen to national prominence via the NYC scene yet continues to maintain a strong presence in Colorado, where her collector base has always been a significant part of her career. The exhibition coincides with a pulsing surge of energy for Morgan, well beyond previous “peaks” that have been a constant companion throughout the first decade of her career.
Morgan begins the fall with no less than four exhibitions commencing within the first two weeks of September, including a second solo offering at Purdue University Galleries (comprised of previously exhibited works by the artist); several paintings in her first group exhibition within the museum context, the Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville’s “Great Real: New American Painting,” as well as inclusion with a single work in an established NYC venue group exhibition. This surge is magnified by two other major distinctions: her profile in the just-released September issue of Juxtapoz magazine (the second cover of a national arts publication for the artist before the age of 35), as well as the upcoming fall release of Juxtapoz’ latest hard-cover tome “Hyperreal” in which Morgan’s work also graces the cover, the first time for her with a mass-market publication. All of these elements continue Jenny Morgan’s steady march towards one of the most distinguished careers in American painting today.
In the search for inner truth we often look to others to find out more about ourselves. Through the seven new paintings that comprise “The Golden Hour,” we are presented with just that, albeit with much more depth and breadth. Aligning the spiritual with the physical has long been a pursuit of Morgan’s and she often represents this in her work through depictions of herself and others, carefully pulling out the individuals essence as she perceives it. Working through ideas and emotions pertaining to her relationships and personal quests is a keystone of Morgan’s artistic practice, one that here strikes a pure, perfect balance.
“The title, ‘The Golden Hour’ came to me after I was thinking about how much light I felt coming through in this new body of work. The gold hour is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the sun is higher in the sky. The colors that occur during this time are usually a gradient moving from yellow, orange to red – which is a pallet that is reflected in each of these works,” Jenny Morgan, 2014.
In this most recent series Morgan focuses on the notion of the cycle. The golden hour being that transitory period between “the end and the beginning of a cycle” where colors are at their most rich and most defined yet meld into each other seamlessly. Within this time is perhaps where Morgan is able to find a sense of clarity and resolve. It is within this space in her work that she is able to break down personal barriers, work out unconscious fears, alleviate conflict and gain a true sense of the duality that is latent within our relationships with one another. This reciprocal aspect of human nature links us together and helps us better understand ourselves through those interactions.
One of the many examples within the series is the painting “Breakthrough Sharona” where Morgan uses a friend and fellow painter as the source of inspiration to help her break down her own walls. Sharona emanates light to symbolize this desire and push through the wall that leads Morgan to her own enlightenment. In the painting “Very Strange Days Indeed” Morgan utilizes opposing skulls to show the duality of mind (or spirit, rather) and body. The skulls mirror each other, one deteriorated the other fresh and lucid, with the space in between symbolically representing the place that the soul moves through both at birth and in death. This is further explicated through the idea of infinity, which is attached to both this and another work in the series entitled “The Dangerous Realm of Infinity.” In this composition the notion of infinity is playfully hinted at through Morgan’s use of an interwoven hashtag, which she relates “as a portal towards infinity within cyber space.” It is this unfathomable realm of the infinite that continually engages Morgan’s practice, one that’s in close relationship to the soul. This comes full circle for Morgan in terms of what she has been working toward throughout the series, finding a way to navigate the spaces, places, and people in our lives in order to better understand our own.
What links us together both in mind and in body synthesize and form our perceptions. While these may not always be clear, it is within moments like those captured in “The Golden Hour” that we are able to gain perspective and truth. Our relationships with one another are indicative of how we move through life and digging into what makes them good, bad, or somewhere in between is a particularly striking talent of Morgan’s. It is this pursuit that allows her to navigate exciting new territory within the realm of contemporary portraiture, clearly making her one of the most fascinating and inspirational artist’s working today. Her consistent development has now proven to be as natural a practice as an artist can have, and one of the most singular to engage with in depth over time.
“The Golden Hour” is presented at Plus Gallery from September 11 – October 18th, with the support of Driscoll | Babcock, New York, which now represents Morgan at an international level. Morgan’s solo debut there in 2013, “How To Find a Ghost,” was noted last year as one of the top 100 exhibitions of the fall season by Modern Painters, and proved to be one of the most successful exhibitions of her career to date.
Plus Gallery will open her latest with an artist’s reception on Thursday, September 11, 6-8 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.
“There is truth in vulnerability. What’s expressed within vulnerability is raw and honest and most often the stuff that we can all relate to,” Jenny Morgan, 2014.
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