5 July – 19 August 2000
Sarah Morris's Neon Series continued her interest in de-coding the urban environment begun in the earlier Midtown Series where Manhattan skyscrapers provided the starting point for the paintings.
The Neon Series is devoted to the gigantic hotels and the electronic billboards of Las Vegas. Morris fragments the anonymous hotel architecture presenting graphically reduced details of the buildings facades as structural all over linear grids. Here the grids are dramatically pushed onto the diagonal making the paintings incredibly dynamic with multiplied and overlapping vanishing points that convey the speed and vertigo of passing through the 'city of signs'.
The paintings are meticulously executed in gleaming household gloss paint. The facets and rectangular reserved areas in the grids read as both the actual glazing of the buildings and as compact fields of unmodulated colour. Each painting repeats particular colour modules and orchestrates their accelerated interaction in various sequences that discharge both the glamour and magnetic pull of the city with its constant circulation and pulsating neon lights.
Whilst the paintings resonate formally with rationalist modernist strategies running from Mondrian, through Albers to Halley, for Morris their formal reduction is the product of distilled reference to the urban world. Morris reworks and translates her sources into paintings that form a self-sustaining series of parallel architectures. Their radical and oblique compositions combined with complex colour sequences produce an exhilarated feeling. These radiant hard edge paintings with their gleaming paint and looming vertiginous planes seen from above, below or even midair, as if flying by in a helicopter, act like stimulants conveying a filmic sense of urban spectacle.