Rebecca Morris: 2001–2022, presents a 21-year survey of Los Angeles-based painter Rebecca Morris (American, b. 1969), an artist best known for her large-scale paintings and inventive approach to composition, color, and gesture. One of the most formidable and inventive painters working today, Morris’s practice demonstrates a rigorous commitment to experimentation and abstraction. Marking the artist’s first major museum survey since 2005, the exhibition is the first of this scale in Los Angeles, where she has lived and worked for nearly 25 years. The occasion also marks a return of Morris to the ICA LA (formally the Santa Monica Museum of Art), which hosted the artist’s first museum exhibition, titled Frankenstein, in 2003.
Featuring a range of paintings produced since 2001 and showcasing the artist’s progression of styles and rigorous commitment to experimentation and abstraction, the exhibition includes 30 paintings. It highlights several formal tendencies that Morris has developed over the years, resulting in a distinct and recognizable visual language. Her arsenal of techniques includes erasure, dripping, and spray painting, applied to canvases lying flat on the floor in an active, physical process. Recurring motifs—such as atomization; the use of patterns, grids, and checkerboards; interlocking geometric forms; painted borders delimiting the picture plane; and her characteristic use of color, including metallic hues and saturated tones, will be traced through groupings of works.
Morris often uses grids and lines as an organizing structure, nodding to their important position within the history of painting and following a generation of conceptual artists who routinely deployed grids and lines to organize visual space, structure and contain ideas and information, mark time, and create discrete systems that rejected representational modes of production. Her oeuvre can also be understood within the framework of artists as diverse as those associated with Pattern & Decoration, with the formal tensions and contradictions contained within her embrace of patterns and textures, and the visibility of her hand in every gesture. Morris’s paintings are invested with a dynamism that pushes against the historical foundation of her chosen medium. It offers a glimpse into exciting ways forward for the constantly evolving and expanding field of painting today.
Morris’s widely regarded and influential career deserves careful consideration, and the exhibition will provide a close look at her wildly inventive and important work. The exhibition is accompanied by a forthcoming major scholarly publication, designed by Lorraine Wild of Green Dragon Office, Los Angeles, in close collaboration with the artist. The fully illustrated volume, expected to be released in early 2023, will be the most comprehensive book on the artist to date, with newly commissioned texts, reprints, and an interview with the artist offering an extensive review of her practice and its place within the contemporary art field. The exhibition will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in Fall 2023.
Rebecca Morris: 2001-2022 is organized by Jamillah James, Manilow Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, with Caroline Liou, ICA LA Curatorial Assistant.
Major support for Rebecca Morris: 2001-2022 is provided by the Vera R. Campbell Foundation, Karen Hillenburg and Sebastian Clough, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
The exhibition is also generously funded by the Pasadena Art Alliance, Jane Hait and Justin Beal, Marla and Jeffrey Michaels, and Dori Peterman-Mostov and Charles Mostov.
Additional support provided by Alexandra Cherubini and Camilo Alvarez, Christina H. Kang, and John Morace and Tom Kennedy.
ICA LA is supported by the Curator’s Council and Fieldwork Council.
Jamillah James is Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She was co-curator (with Margot Norton) of Soft Water Hard Stone, the 2021 New Museum Triennial at the New Museum, New York. Previously, James was Senior Curator and Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA); Assistant Curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, organizing exhibitions at the museum and Art + Practice, Leimert Park; and held curatorial positions at the Studio Museum in Harlem and Queens Museum, New York, in addition to producing exhibitions and programs at various alternative and artist-run spaces throughout the US and Canada.
Upcoming exhibitions include a 20-year survey of painter Rebecca Morris and the group exhibitions Enter the Mirror and The Living End: Painting and Other Technologies, 1970–Present. Recent exhibitions include Sara Cwynar: Apple Red/Grass Green/Sky Blue (2022); Harold Mendez: Let us gather in a flourishing way (2020); Stanya Kahn: No Go Backs (2020); No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake (2019); and This Has No Name, the first US museum survey of B. Wurtz (2018). She has curated several thematic group exhibitions, including The Inconstant World (2021), A Shape That Stands Up (2016), and sisters and brothers (2014), and solo exhibitions of Lucas Blalock, Sarah Cain, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Alex Da Corte, Abigail DeVille, rafa esparza, Maryam Jafri, Stanya Kahn, Ann Greene Kelly, and Simone Leigh, among others.