What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

May 23, 2024

Kristen Morgin
My Love Must Be a Kind of Blind Love
Marc Selwyn Fine Art
April 27 - June 1, 2024

Kristen Morgin

Los Angeles based Kristen Morgin is best known for her delicate sculptures. More often than not, these works are crafted from painted unfired clay and are to scale tromp l'oeil renditions of books, album covers, games, toys and other child-like objects that are weathered and worn. No sculptures are on display in My Love Must Be a Kind of Blind Love. Instead, she presents large-scale detailed drawings for the first time These mixed-media pieces read as quirky assemblages of two-dimensional materials from a melange of subjects that are brought together to create fascinating narratives.

[Vibes Playing Softly...] (2024) is a large, horizontal, graphite and pencil work on paper filled with a detailed depiction of a giant bowhead whale that spans the composition. Centered on its back is a cartoon princess sleeping comfortably in the crook of the whale's spine. The giant crustation appears to be suspended by ropes carried by tiny flying birds towards the top of the image. At the bottom are a gathering of small silhouetted figures watching the scene unfold. A snake swims alongside the whale as they traverse a patchwork of taped together graphite textures. All of this "action" takes place atop graphite renderings of large film sprockets.

Different species of whales appear in two other images. In the sepia-toned The Puppet and The Whale or So Far Away, (2022) Morgin juxtaposes a spotted orca gracefully swimming in a darkened celestial space (it could be sky or sea) with two floating balloons, trying to get free of the chains that surround its fins. What appears to be a thin horizontal shelf crosses the top of the image on which rests a non functional puppet that could be a sleeping Pinocchio. In What the Whale Dreamt (2024) Morgin combines two different types of paper that are combined with ragged masking tape. The top drawing depicts a pencil sketch of a sperm whale on which rests a sleeping Snoopy drawn is a contrasting style.On another sheet of paper, hanging from strings attached to the whale's body, is an beautifully drawn abstract mandala/flower that transforms from a realistic representation to a grid of back and white pixels.Mo

rgin purposely collages elements and renders aspects of the works in different styles to give the works a patch-work effect. Through the combination of graphite drawings with masking tape and collage, the pieces feel as through there were rescued, magically reconnected and brought back to life. Similar to her quasi-broken ceramics, Morgin salvages forgotten moments and objects from the past to presenting them as cherished entities.

Her stream of consciousness works delight in random associations and strange juxtapositions that criss-cross genres and time. The "cutesie" aspects of the pieces are purposeful like in the tiny drawing I can Feel It In My Bones (2020) where Morgin illustrates a valentine holding skeleton. Vanishing Wild Things (2020) pays homage to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Here, a range of completed and outlined animals from the book share the space with trees and Nintendo-looking pixelated figures. Whimsy and magic are all pervasive in Morgin's works on paper. The drawings are delightful, unpredictable and imaginative. She seamlessly re-purposes and re-configures appropriated and invented imagery to make thoughtful mixed-media works that are infused with complex narratives and skillful reproductions.

In the back gallery is an exhibition of works on paper by Tom Knechtel that perfectly complements Morgin's drawings. Both artists imagine the ways animals and humans can interact and how what animals communicate when they take on human characteristics. It is a pleasure to see works by both these accomplished artists on view at the same time.