Sarah Morris’ well-deserved ubiqituous fame is based on the geometric abstractions of both her paintings and films, playing with architecture, design and the psychology of urban environments. Parallel to her paintings, Morris’ films also trace urban, social and bureaucratic topologies. In both media, she explores the psychology of the contemporary city and its architecturally encoded politics. Morris assesses what today’s urban structures, bureaucracies, cities and nations might conceal and surveys how a particular moment can be inscribed and embedded into its visual surfaces.
Featuring pieces from some of the most defining series of the artist’s career, in the works from her series Rings, Morris derives inspiration from the Olympic rings as well as alluding to interlocking highways. In a work from John Hancock, again one of her latest series, the artist uses forms reminiscent of the the first multi-functional high-rise building of America (called the John Hancock Center), creating forms that arecontinuously splintering and self-generating, and without resolution, creating after-images of capitalism and pre-images of new systems of control. The paintings also play with the history of John Hancock as the ‘father of the signature’ — his flamboyant, stylish signature as a sign of ironic mockery and belligerence. Similarly, in Clips and Knots, the artist uses forms in which knots and paperclips interlock. She turns to simple office items and their capacity to symbolise such demanding mental operations as establishing connections, liaising and unifying. She leaves aside the due functions of these unifying shapes to create complex forms despite the semi-analitical clarity of the paintings. These simple binding structures suggest a transition from enduring utility to contingent organization or text, data and copied material. Form and content consequently becomes indistinguishable and the narrative of the paintings is intensified by the color scheme.