My paintings can be examined, or they can be seen.
To examine them at your leisure is to delve and
discover, continually peeling back the layers of
composition, colour, text, scratches and lines
that are intentional as well as unintentional. Somewhat
like peeling an onion.
On your visual journey, you will be pleasantly
teased. Teased because you will attempt to
assign meaning and direction to the various elements
on the canvas, only to find you have gone down
a blind alley. Teased because you will find
that texts and associations you may think you have
deciphered, were never there to be deciphered in
the first place.
The shapes and lines and small, insignificant
placements and assignations, though seemingly accidental,
have been laid down with a serious degree of accuracy. There
are no “accidents” in my compositions. I
would categorize this randomness as “controlled
All these processes together, when wielded with
an eye for balance and a knowledge of knowing when
to stop, make the act of painting an enriching
To see a painting is to visually drink in its
colours and shapes and the relationship these two
have to each other as defined by the four edges
of the canvas. To see a painting is to acknowledge
it. Perhaps to encourage further curiosity,
perhaps to dismiss it as unappealing, or worse,
a bad painting. Curiosity can be satisfied,
but a bad painting is just a bad painting.
I would like to think that my paintings are both. That
is, they are examined at length for discovery sake,
and played like a good game…continuously
and often, and that they are seen as the simple
squares and rectangles that they are, but understood
on a more complex level. Easy to examine,
easier to see.
Cole Morgan, Antwerp, 2004.
Robert C. Morgan is author and editor of many books, including monographs on Gary Hill and Bruce Nauman (Johns Hopkins, 2000 and 2002), Art into Ideas (Cambridge, 1996) and The Artist and Globalization (Miejska Galeria Sztuki w Lodzi, 2008). He is Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute and has taught in the Republic of Korea as a Fulbright Senior Scholar (2005).