Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Abelardo Morell (American, b. Havana, 1948). Following his inaugural exhibition in 2013 with Galerie Edwynn Houk in Zurich, this show marks the artist’s first exhibition at Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York. The sixteen large-scale photographs on view will highlight the scope of Morell’s most recent subjects and his continued experiments with perception. The artist will be present at the opening reception on Thursday, 23 October from 6-8pm.
Reveling in the expectations of the photographic process, Morell’s work is charged with discoveries concerning optics, aperture, exposure, and most notably, camera obscura. Since 1991, Morell has been using the camera obscura to effectively turn entire rooms into cameras: the outside world is transposed onto the interior, creating unexpected and often surreal imagery. In Camera Obscura: Late Afternoon View of The East Side of Midtown Manhattan, 2014 (pictured), the New York City skyline floats over two mysteriously lit doors and the two worlds are flattened into one imaginary place.
To further explore the camera’s ability to capture time and place, Morell invented the “Tent-Camera,” a portable light-proof tent that uses a periscope to project the outside landscape onto the ground inside the tent. This enables him to utilize the process of camera obscura in unusual and remote locations. In these works, the resulting image compresses the view and the exact spot he stood to see it. Whether it is the cobblestone streets in Toledo, cracked pavement at Yellowstone National Park, or home plate of Wrigley Field, the technique results in an abstract, tactile and more painterly image that captures more faithfully the experience of that time and place, rather than serving as a document or mechanical record.
Morell moves seamlessly between those works, while also creating still lifes of found and everyday objects that he transforms in unexpected ways. By playing with scale and eliminating hints of context, paper bags are transformed into monumental, abstract sculptures, while the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art become a study of minimalist lines. Sheets of paper form portraits and endless columns, and oil paintings from the Barnes Collection are re-arranged to create the semblance of an entirely new and disjointed depiction of a building.
The breadth of Morell’s subject matter in the last year alone demonstrates his continued interest and success in exploring various methods of picture-making. Alternating between technologically complex techniques and deceptively simple studies, Morell’s work always begs for a closer look and multiple viewings, and inspires a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around us.
Abelardo Morell holds an MFA from Yale University, and an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin College. In 1993, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Until 2010, he was a full-time professor of photography at Massachusetts College of Art, where he continues to work with graduate students. Morell was the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award in 2011. In 2013, Morell was the subject of a retrospective entitled, The Universe Next Door, organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, which traveled to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the High Museum in Atlanta. His work is in numerous private and public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Fondation Cartier, Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, amongst others. Abelardo Morell lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts.