Joel Morrison’s Heavy Metal at Gagosian

I interviewed American sculptor Joel Morrison today, who is in town for his solo exhibition opening at Gagosian.

Down the length of Gagosian’s immaculate and sterile space was an equally immaculately presented series of twelve stainless steel sculptures by the 36 year-old Seattle-born, LA based artist, touted by some as being one of the most significant sculptors to come out of LA in recent years.

Upon first glance, one could be forgiven for recalling the works of Koons. In fact, Morrison gets this now and then. But chatting with him I learnt that behind the works is not just another nod to the post-pop production line, but a very hand-on process that thoughtfully and cleverly engages with not just the canon of Western art history, but also with contemporary social and political issues.

Using discarded objects from his immediate environs — such as water bottles, kitchen utensils, light bulbs, bullets, sneakers, hotdogs and everything in between — Morrison creates polished stainless steel sculptures that reference classical Greek sculpture, Duchampian ready-mades, futurism and pop-culture with humour and intelligence. “His work finds a happy middle ground between figuration and abstraction, and he creates this humorous dialogue between the two,” explains Gagosian HK’s Whitney Ferrare.

Morrison’s work looks expensive, beautiful and very shiny, but it’s not merely about surface, although he is very adept at playing up the advantages of the material he employs, and there are references to LA’s Finish Fetish art movement. The aggregation of discarded objects symbolic of our excessive consumerist culture, and the layers of artistic references and tongue-in-cheek punchlines results in a dynamic visual language. It is what makes his work challenging on both a critical and aesthetic level, but also so engaging and arresting. And for those familiar with their art history, I guarantee a chuckle or two.

For the full interview check out the October issue of HK Tatler or stay tuned on!

Joel Morrison at Gagosian HK
13 September- 17 November 2012

Joel Morrison, with one of his works, ‘Pop Defekte’, 2011
‘Standing Figure with a Crowbar’, 2012
‘Weather Balloon Trapped in a Shopping Cart’, 2009
‘Pop Defekte’, 2012
With Joel Morrison beside ‘Tomb’, 2012

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