Los Angeles

Jim Morphesis

Tortue Gallery

Like much recent painting, Jim Morphesis’ work is revivalist, the painting of a believer of, and in, something that has passed. It is painted to recall the past and it seems that past’s willing victim, the willing record of the present’s historical damage. It measures, or is meant to, the damage of “the times,” and, more than that, a particular psychological damage as well: the much-heralded struggle to paint, to find feelings and images, in the late twentieth century. These are, the argument goes, the paintings we must make in order to make paintings. The very existence of such works as painting now is supposedly a victory, a political or spiritual or, at the conjunction, an ideological one.

Images of heroic expediency, of obsession and necessity, Morphesis’ large and belabored paintings are at least ostensibly threatened and damaged. Their supports are built of torn-off pieces of cardboard

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the February 1985 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.