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Claire Morgan

Galerie Karsten Greve Paris

Perpetually at the Centre
October 14 - December 23, 2017
Opening: Saturday, 14 October 2017, 6 - 8.30 pm
in the presence of the artist

To be a castaway is to be a point perpetually at the centre of a circle […]. When you look up, you sometimes wonder if [...] there isn’t another one like you also looking up, also trapped by geometry, also struggling with fear, rage, madness, apathy.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Galerie Karsten Greve is pleased to present Perpetually at the Centre: a new exhibition of Claire Morgan’s work. A visual artist of Irish origin, she is one of the most sought after and talented artists on the international scene today. This exhibition unveils the artist’s most recent works, created especially for this space, to the public. Fuelled by environmental and ethical concerns, this exhibition includes four new suspended installations predominated by the dynamics between the bodies of taxidermy animals that seem to be contained within synthetic or alien environments, and new compositions displayed in vitrines, including one that incorporates text. A corpus of delicate sketches permits us to discover the artist’s meticulous creative work juxtaposed with the ardent and instinctive impetus of a surprising series of large-scale canvases.
Claire Morgan’s work explores the ambivalence in the human being’s relationship with the natural world that surrounds him/her. The artist’s reflections on the human presence in the world, which has resulted in the progressive destruction of our natural environment, are externalised in her installations using taxidermy animals that appear to be inhabiting and adapting to a world of superficial post-consumer waste that engulfs them. In the suspended temporality that defines these aerial sculptures, in which bodies are immobilised in a state of perpetual motion, this conflict plays out between life and death; between the organic and the artificial.
It was contemplations about the power of nature, as well as an exploration of the self, ego and mortality, that bore this exhibition. The vastness of the sea, wild forests and the night all manifest as an abyss or the fear of the unknown, a subject meditated upon until it has become rather a metaphor for life itself, and reveals the vulnerability of humankind. This thought process does indeed take into account the on-going tragic events that we see on a near-daily basis. From the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean where, for thousands of migrants, the sea can move from vector of hope to tomb; to the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower where people saw their homes transformed into a hellish vision; to the increasing occurrence of extreme weather that surely predicts environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.
The works also symbolise the artist’s private battles, attesting to her awareness of her own passions. For Claire Morgan, the will that each one of us has to exist is strongly linked to both the passion and violence that we use to express our primal needs. This struggle, be it physical or psychological, is part of our private landscape and it engenders contradictions in our consciousness. These concerns have guided the way the exhibition is organised, unfolding accordingly in specific pairs of ideas: the self and violence; the passage of time and transcendence; the fear of darkness and drowning; fire and death.
The very principle of taxidermy, which Claire Morgan carries out with her own hands, lies in the contradictory act of striving to give the appearance of life to something that is dead. This ambivalence is a characteristic of all of her work: in her drawings, as in her paintings, the residue of the taxidermy procedure itself becomes material for graphic expression. Elements such as bones and bodily fluids, and, for the first time, animals, are integrated into the works, whilst affording them a symbolic, ritualistic quality.
In this artist’s work, nature stupefies: perfect in its immobility. The ambiguous vital presence of these taxidermy animals contrasts the fragile geometry that this “assembling virtuosa” creates with the help of nylon thread from which she hangs dandelion seeds or fragments of plastic. Claire Morgan’s world is a universe where nature, assaulted by the invasive and cynical presence of the modern human being, uses its ultimate beauty to resist. Incarnated in the perfection of geometric and minimalist scenarios, it is also in the fragility of structures so light that a mere gust of wind could make them disappear.
Claire Morgan was born in 1980 in Belfast (Northern Ireland) and she lives and works in Gateshead near Newcastle upon Tyne (England). Her works have been shown all across Europe, and she has received both public and private commissions on numerous occasions. In 2010, after having shown her work at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Claire Morgan inaugurated her first French private gallery exhibition at the Galerie Karsten Greve. On that occasion, she showed her “blood drawings” for the first time: works on paper that reflect the taxidermy procedure. Since then, her work has been shown in Europe as well as in the United States where she has participated in numerous exhibitions. The artist’s installations and drawings have become part of prestigious international public and private collections, amongst these are the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Australia; the Foundation ALTANA in Germany; and the Collection Guerlain in France. In 2017 the FRIST Center for Visual Arts in Nashville organised her first solo show in the United States. The Fondation Francès in Senlis (France), in collaboration with the Galerie Karsten Greve, has dedicated a solo show to Claire Morgan open until 23 December 2017.

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