By Matt Hardman, Seraphin Gallery Resident
Michael Morrill has painted consistently since the late 20th century. He received his BFA from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, and his MFA from the School of Art at Yale University. The artist’s work has been exhibited in both solo and group shows throughout the United States and Europe, as well as represented in corporate and private collections. Currently, Morrill is an associate professor of studio art at the University of Pittsburgh.
Influenced by mid-century abstract and minimalist art, Morrill’s work demonstrates attention to richness of color and geometric forms. The artist serializes his work, repeating shapes, lines, and color palettes throughout. His visual patterns abandon a sense of order in favor of forms which blend into one another. Overlap in color, shape, and texture are consistent throughout Morrill’s paintings. Geometric patterns dominate his work, with the significance placed upon the pattern as a whole rather than the individual shapes and forms.
In Morrill’s Kind of Blue I (fig: 1), his style is exemplified with three color blocks that divide the painting into geometric shapes. The pattern created by this series, although different from his earlier work, is still representative of the artist’s dis-concern for representative forms when constructing his compositions. However the pattern is interrupted by gold shapes that seep through the blue and black spaces.
This is repeated in Kind of Blue II (fig: 2), where both the black and blue color blocks allow for gold to shine through. Morrill carefully applies the gold and blue prior to hiding large portions of the canvas in black paint. However, parts of the black space in both pieces is scrapped off, revealing the colors underneath. These textured elements of layered color disrupt the pattern and the viewer’s sense of order on the canvas. It creates a space which is kind of blue, but not entirely so.
Michael Morrill’s use of color and texture to manipulate space and shape allows for endless variations of pattern. His work is reflective of the abstract painters of the 20th century such as Mark Rothko, expressing raw emotions through color and shape. However, Morrill differentiates himself by creating paintings that have the semblance of order, unhinged by interruption, and an ambiguous space of the “almost” and “kind of”.