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H.E. Morris: Of Death and Visions

10 May - 1 June 2024

In my arms the wailing philosopher
The final call of mad history
Now my presence is known
My arrival marked by illuminated stains
The great window of paradise open
Down to radiant dust fall the curtains Past Time In fly flocks of multi-coloured birds

GREGORY CORSO, ‘In the fleeting hand of time’

One evening around 500 BCE the distinguished Greek poet Simonides of Ceos was abruptly called out of a feast, having been told that there were two visitors outside the banquet hall asking after him. Moments after he stepped away from the feast, the hall in which he was seated is said to have collapsed, flattening all who were still inside.

When excavating the dining hall, he was challenged with the gruesome task of identifying the bodies of the other not-so-fortunate guests who had also attended the banquet that evening. Flattened beyond identification, he managed to recall the other guests in attendance by way of remembering the seating arrangements within the hall.

This experience is accredited to the development of the “memory theatre”, a system of mnemonics commended by both the Greeks and the Romans and popularised right up until the renaissance period. This method of Loci uses the human mind as a temporal scaffold – mapping information onto the spatial to aid with memory impressions, improve recall and assist in the invention of ideas.

In this regard the psyche is formed around a distinction between the matter of an experience and its form. As Freud reasons in hisiceberg diagram, consciousness has its head above sea level whilst the bulk of the iceberg, the unconscious, remains beneath, concealed.

A similar fashioning of Freud’s ‘iceberg’ analogy is apparent in the collection of works H.E. Morris presents in her first solo exhibition in London at lbf contemporary, Of Death and Visions. Signifying simultaneously both the closure of and the opportunity for experience, this juxtaposition is the starting point for Morris’ exploration of the unconscious. The paintings become Morris’s memory theatre and we, her audience, are invited to consume.

The works included in this show feature abstract landscapes inspired by the land that Morris feels akin, her birthplace of Upstate New York. Morris’ painting practice broadly explores perhaps the only Greek concepts we are yet to destroy – love and death.

Brush strokes sit atop the various surfaces utilised by Morris, exposing traces of the invisible hand of the artist and the submerged unconscious at work. The varying surfaces used – linen, canvas and locally

sourced fabrics – all react differently when paint is applied, masterfully weaving the gestures from depths to surface.

Into the Fold features three fabrics sewn together. A see-through mesh fabric gives the viewer a rare chance to see beneath the surface of the painting, whilst the cobalt blue segment is porous, allowing the oil paint to permeate its vibrant weave. The surfaces are chosen purposely by Morris to limit the editing process, allowing her unaltered unconscious to reign free.

Other works in the show such as Diving into the Wreck feature a figure which becomes an event within the landscape. A celebration of ambiguity; the figure reflects the transcendence of time and space carefully manifested by Morris striking the searchlights of sign and meaning.

This body of works, both raw and delicate, allow us to climb Morris’ temporal scaffold, providing us brief moments of insight into her memory theatre.

 

H.E. Morris makes maps of the world for us to situate ourselves within. Emotion is herein organised from our human experience and existence – between the real and the unreal, the subjective and objective, death and all its visions.

–Rob Rodak

Hannah Morris Studio Portrait -

H.E. Morris

Born 1989, USA

Lives and works in London, UK

 

H. E. Morris is an artist based in London, UK. She has received an MA from Goldsmiths in Contemporary Art Theory, an MFA from the University of Iowa in Painting and Drawing, and a BA from Hampshire College. Morris was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA in 2019, and a Soho Revue Artist in Residence in 2023. Morris is currently in her final year as a PhD researcher in Fine Art at Newcastle University. Her practice is interested in working through a place of emotion to search for a truth. Structuring her paintings through memory, she explores the temporalities of narrative in order to test a notion of time that splits between working through absence and presence. Morris will present her debut solo exhibition Of Death and Visions at LBF Contemporary in spring of 2024. 

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