Since 2006, Malcolm Morley has made over twenty-five monotypes and monoprints with One Eye Pug/Sue Scott Gallery. Despite being an accomplished printmaker who had made numerous other types of prints, this body of work was Morley’s first foray into the monotype medium.
Morley uses the monotype medium not as a staid or simplistic process of transference, but rather as an investigation of how the pressure of a press affects imagery. In each monotype, Morley pushed experimentation, never using the exact same technique twice. In Rushing to Miami, 2006, printed with master printer Kathy Caraccio, he used Mylar as the plate on which to paint the exotic and colorful kites floating above a tropical setting. The Mylar caused the watercolor to pool in areas resulting in porcelain like quality that he could not have achieved on the more porous surface of paper. After going through the press, the full, colorful image was transferred to the paper while simultaneously staining the Mylar, resulting in a ghost image on the plate that did not appear on the paper. Not for the last time, the artist blurred the line between print and original.
Working with master printer Maurice Sanchez, Morley also experimented with a hydraulic press. In a progression entitled Abandon Ship, 2008, Sanchez took the plate through the press nine times, with each resulting image a lighter version of the previous one. As noted by Nancy Princenthal in her catalogue essay, Sanchez says, “if making a print is like making a movie – you do it in parts, and assemble it, and there is a great deal of editing – making a monoprint is like improvisational theatre: you live and die on the spot.” However, with Abandon Ship, Morley made a drawing outlining the images in black and Sanchez ran a single lithograph over each monotype, again questioning definitions. Technically, a monoprint begins with a printed matrix off which the image is built – Morley reverses the process, by “drawing” on top of the image.
Much of Morley’s work is autobiographical. For example, Red Shoes with Palette, 2007 came out of his time spent volunteering at a local Boys and Girls Club. Morley instructed his students to draw a favorite item, like their tennis shoes, and felt he should do the same. Here the artist juxtaposes a messy, well-used watercolor palette next to the shoes, a reminder of the artifice of the image.
Born in London in 1931, Malcolm Morley studied at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art. In 1958 he moved to the United States and in 1984 he was awarded the inaugural Turner Prize for British artists. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Painting Award in 1992. Morley first achieved widespread recognition in the 1960s for his super-realist paintings and again in the eighties for his masterful Neo-Expressionist works. Morley’s work is in public and private collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Tate, London; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.
A catalogue with an essay by Nancy Princenthal will accompany the exhibition.