The diverse and prolific career of Desmond Morris is apparent throughout his multifaceted artwork. After studying Zoology, he gave his painting the attention it demanded. Soon enough, Swindon Art Centre hosted his first solo exhibition in 1948. His compositions deliver creatures, or bio-morphs, which dwell in surreal landscapes that hold both the weight of a familiar reality and revel in a dislocated dreamscape. In 1950, his work was exhibited in London amongst leaders of the surrealist movement, including Joan Miró. For some time, Morris allowed his other passions to take precedence, conducting research in the Zoology Department at Oxford University during the 1950s, before his career in film, television, radio and writing, swiftly took off.
There is a constant exchange occurring between his seemingly dissimilar interests, as they fuel and inform each other. For example, his books explore themes such as survival or isolation, comparing civilised societies to zoos, and humans to animals. He is disassembling our societies, lifestyles, and the resulting consequences, exactly as his artwork dismantles and dismembers the human form. Humankind is stripped of its ingrained identity and laid bare as an animal like any other. The nature of each strand of Morris’ work is inquisitive and investigatory, and begins where nothing is taken for granted. However, what is even more extraordinary is that the surrealist ‘subconscious’, that collapses sense and order, is still preserved, alongside his logical, scientific standpoint. In the mid 1970s, Morris’ artwork resurfaced, as he exhibited work produced over the previous thirty years around the country. The O3 Gallery presents an exhibition of Morris’ paintings and drawings, spanning from 1992 to 2014. The viewer is immediately made aware of the variety of work, as well as the historical context within which his recent work resides. His earlier expansive dreamscapes, and more abstract, geometrical compositions, surround the close-up portraits of his evolved bio-morphs, indicating the bold experimentation required for such a progressive practise. His ‘Horror Heads’ series stands out, departing in medium and style. Yet their temperament, too, is striking, leaving lingering curiosities as to the origins of these subjects. I like to imagine that they are portraits of the individuals captured in his expansive dreamscapes, who do you think they are?
Entry is free and the exhibition is open from the 4th July until the 26th July. O3 Gallery opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 12:00 – 17:00 Saturday – Sunday: 11:00 – 16:00 For more information, please check out our social media channels: Instagram: http://instagram.com/o3gallery Twitter: https://twitter.com/O3Gallery Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/O3Gallery