It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the work of an old art school friend of mine, Michele Morcos. Michele and I entered the painting studio at the College of Fine Arts (UNSW) together in 1995 and have been good friends ever since. While I went off on a curatorial path, Michele has stayed true to her art practice. She is one of the very few in our year who remains a full-time artist. Michele is based in Sydney.
It’s rare that I mix my personal and business lives, so when Michele told me that her recent landscape painting exhibition was forced to close only one week after opening due to the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Sydney, it was a crushing blow. She had spent over a year preparing, and I know how hard she works. The best way I could think to help her was to bring her unsold works to our gallery clients. I also asked her to give me some of her abstract mixed media and woven works to illustrate the two sides of her practice. For transparency: I am working on a reduced commission so that the majority of the sales price goes to supporting her.
For as long as I’ve known her, Michele’s primary focus has been on the play between colour, light and texture and a large part of her practice is abstract in style. But as she demonstrates here, she is also an accomplished landscape artist.
Across both genres Michele’s interest is rendering space and light, not direct representation. Granted, the landscapes look like landscapes; however her approach is more in line with the Impressionists’ obsession with light than with form, for it is the way light bounces off surfaces and colours collide that gives a sense of space and place. The intensity of colour lends a sense of drama and awe that the Australian landscape delivers in spades, and for which Michele has a strong affinity.
The abstract works I have included here are from Michele’s “elemental” series. It combines elements of painting and drawing, often using heavy, “toothy” papers that allow her to work layer upon layer of acrylic, oil pastel and pencil into the surface without it disintegrating.
Mark making has been a central pillar of Michele's practice. While her student days were inspired by Cy Twombly, she has left him far behind to create her own visual language that comprises layers of painting, drawing and erasure, where each layer is linked to the previous: it is the seen and the unseen. This approach has led her to investigate and incorporate elements of quantum physics, cosmology and other ideas around space and time, including Australian Indigenous notions of connectedness and “everywhen”, a term coined by anthropologist W. E. H. Stanner. These works are deeply philosophical in nature and reflect her enquiry-based approached to life.
It has been a great and exciting privilege to observe Michele’s development over the past 25 years. I whole-heartedly commend her works to you and I hope that you are able to support her through the purchase of her art. On that note, I would like to leave you with some words from the artist herself:
Michele Morcos | Artist Statement
We are all interconnected through the fabric of time, the entanglement of space, and the molecular structure of matter and particles that weave and shape our ‘Multiverse’. I am interested in how we could visualise and pictorially render the elements that invisibly float and interconnect us all on the metaphysical plane.
Through multimedia drawings, paintings and coil woven objects, my art practice creates a multilayered visual landscape that asks us to look at the infinitesimal details of nature and the cosmos, and feel the beauty and poetry that quietly surrounds us in the every –when*, as well as focusing on her Australian/Egyptian heritage and the way both cultures intersect within their coil weaving practices.
* At any or all times. The Australian anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner conveyed the idea in his 1956 essay The Dreaming, in which he coined the term ‘everywhen’. “One cannot ‘fix’ The Dreaming in time: it was, and is, everywhen” wrote Stanner, adding that The Dreaming “… has … an unchallengeable sacred authority”.