Brian Morris is an Australian expatriate residing in Sweden since 2011. He feels that there is a sense of calm permeating the environment here – even down to the light: “In Sweden there’s a much softer light”. These sentiments can also be applied to his artwork as most of them don’t really seem to have any harshness to them; the subjects look molten and soft. The results are paintings that instill an overall sense of calm in the spectator. Interestingly, the calmness is only heightened by the psychedelic backdrop present in a lot of his paintings.
Morris conjures up ideas in a sporadic fashion, taking inspiration from nothing and everything all at once – all the ideas culminating into a marriage of surrealism and realism.
– My ideas come from the nuts and bolts of everyday life cause there’s just so much to discover. To me, everyday life seems surreal so it’s quite natural to jump in and out of surrealism and realism.
– I used to worry quite a bit about how random it looked or seemed but now I embrace that more. Sometimes it’s psychedelic, sometimes it’s surrealism. But as I’ve gotten older I feel much more like I embrace it more.
I mention that I observed a certain aspect of his paintings that remind me of magical realism.
– I try to be as sincere as possible. My part in the universe seems so magical and surreal in a way because it’s unknown what my part in it actually is. That’s the sort of magic and wonder I get caught up in and there’s such an endless supply of it around us, all hidden in the very real matter and substance I see in front of me. I always found it so profound to paint a forest for example. Magical realism isn’t something I aim towards, it’s following that feeling of wonder at being a part of the universe and embracing it sincerely.
Morris’ process is as intriguing as it is anarchic. Well, it sounds slightly anarchic as it is being described to me, but to him this process is fairly prosaic.
– A painting is never finished. Someone once said a painting is finished when you feel like you’re painting someone else’s work, and I think that’s a perfect way of describing that feeling of “It’s time to just let it be”. My process is that I dive into two or three paintings at once. There’ll be a fourth or fifth idea from these paintings which I’ll keep for the next painting, as well.
– I rotate working time between the paintings. I’ll place them facing against the wall when they are almost complete for two weeks or so, and start on the new ideas for the other paintings and then after a while return back to the old ones. So maybe i’ll have half a dozen to ten paintings in a cyclone of rotation. Once I have turned them around I sort of see them with fresh eyes again. A technique I arrived at from playing around in the studio.
We begin to discuss the popularity of photorealistic art in current times and how interesting it is that art trends work in a sort of cyclical fashion this way.
– It’s quite curious because it goes against what one might think would be the next logical step. We still want to see slowed down processes and images, despite everyone being able to take and view high quality photographs now from their phones. I think people want to see something executed in a slow manner. The critical eye of people is also more common these days as people can view more art instantly. It’s kind of a hopeful feeling that people want to see art through slow working processes and paintings done in a realistic manner. An example is how you can see any film at any time but people still like to go to the cinema and theatre.
Have you ever felt like you’ve had to justify your art?
– I sort of felt like I’ve had to explain my work into being modern. I have felt guilty because it was painted. I’ve shared studios with people who are studying art and they have their own trends within art education, as well, but I’ve thought sometimes that I had to justify to myself that my work was modern.
This is in regards to the past. Today he feels more confident in showcasing his art to the world.
– The world is bigger than that (the contemporary modern art scene) and it’s not my worry to manipulate or censor what I do. The more I paint the more it makes sense and the better it is received in the world outside my studio. A narrative will somehow always come through
Brian Morris is a man who seems content in the mundane, and comfortable in the trivial machinations of everyday life. This is because of his admirable ability to peel off the first outer layer of things and observe a scene within that appears magical, surreal, and even psychedelic.
You can view his art here