c2000 by Robert Morris
Sonnabend Gallery, NYC until end of July
Morris’s felt installations are his first new works in felt since the 1990s, a material he has been working with since 1967. They do not fail to impress. Large and imposing they confront the viewer immediately, in both awesome stature and bold colour. These pieces are carried by the substance and weight of the characteristic material Morris works with; the felt is heavy, possessing a density, a presence in mass, which is felt throughout the design of the piece. The felt is cut in large swathes, returning upwards in large loops that are held not by gravity but by the heaviness of the mass of material, bunching with its weight upon the floor. The alternating of red and black, the clear and bold colour change, only emphasises this weight, drawing our attention to the luxurious amount of material on show. Colour is strong, assuming, reflective of the material, and echoes of regiment or religion in its connotation-filled contrast. This presence of clothing or uniform is then picked up with the wing like structures either side of the central ‘hood’; they present, offer us a display, holding out for us this design like a uniformed and ceremonial lineup. Whether intentional or not, there is a personification in the central ‘hood’ that encourages this viewpoint; we cannot help but see a faceless figure holding out arms, so used are we in trying to associate structures with imitations of people. This cloaked nobody, only visible in excess of fabric and possessing no body mass that we can see, adds an air of mystery, of mysticism, to the piece, the black and red becoming exotic with an element of Eastern promise.