The idea of breaking reality down into its most fundamental components may seem like a heady exercise in logic. But for two Colorado artists, this is the central theme of their works and upcoming exhibit at UCCS' Galleries of Contemporary Art.
Formal Elements showcases the work of Pard Morrison and Patrick Marold, two 36-year-old abstract artists whose styles, though drastically different, are rooted in Colorado's natural aesthetic and culture and possess a mysteriously tangible human presence. The show is the brainchild of gallery co-directors Caitlin Green and Daisy McConnell.
"Together, I really liked the vocabulary and great elegance Pard and Patrick were both using in their installations," Green says. "They both approach these basic concepts in very fundamental ways that will really complement each other well."
Inspired by nature and mankind's relationship with it, Marold's abstract installations are vast and encompassing. The Denver-based artist uses recycled material like cable and wood to create his own physically interactive, surreal environments that focus on the character of the material.
"People need to have the opportunity to see it in person, because all of my work is very tactile and I appreciate when people touch it and respond to it physically," Marold says. "I want to offer an enhanced perspective, something a little more isolated and focused in the relationships between the material and the landscape."
Marold can trace his perception of our interaction with the environment back to his great-grandfather, a coal miner in Victor. "Art isn't always just beautiful," Marold says. "There's a lot of ugliness in art, just like in the world."
Morrison's works are more obviously industrial in nature, exploring the mechanization of human thought and how it shapes modern perspective. He's well known for his installation pieces, especially those that feature abstract towers resembling giant Rubik's cubes out in grassy fields.
That angular sensibility has also appeared in Morrison's drawings, or what he calls "mutations." In full color, they appear to be textured and multidimensional, despite being flat. In this way, they reflect the two-dimensional way in which modern society has come to see reality — from a computer screen.
Morrison used to incorporate text and images into wooden fixtures, but transitioned to hand-welded, finely polished aluminum accented only by glossy color-wheel schemes. He says his work was changed by his return to Colorado Springs from Fort Collins, and by 9/11, which happened around the same time. But even a decade in the past, those changes continually affect his art.
"It was the reaction to 9/11 and just trying to describe something without words or images and getting to the core elements of our human spirituality," he says. "My woodwork was a perversion on how images and text corrupted our spiritual experience. It almost seems like a different life ago."