los-angeles

James Morris

Saxon-Lee Gallery

James Morris calls his paintings “American History Sublime,” advocating what he calls a “cynically optimistic” view in which doubt and reason grapple together, with at least some hope of transcendence. Morris’ early combinations of found images and narrative text were heavily influenced by the Art & Language group. However, these initial experiments quickly evolved during the mid ’80s into more ambiguous multiple-panel formats in which contradictory systems of visual language played out a form of stalemate, an uneasy duality between the idea of the sublime and the inevitable elusiveness of its realization. The same concerns underlie Morris’ latest paintings. But for the fact that all the light has been sucked out of them, these dark, sometimes indecipherable vistas might conjure up Corot’s fuzzy, poeticized landscapes or Caspar David Friedrich’s 19th-century Romantic treatises. The landscape,

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