“This Is As Far As I Started”, Opera Gallery London is pleased to present the new series of works by George Morton-Clark.
British artist George Morton-Clark presents a playful new body of artworks in his recognisably animated style. The artist adds originality and story to already familiar cartoon characters including Popeye, Bambi, Garfield and Sesame Street’s Big Bird that are reborn with a newfound sense of vitality and meaning. While the works highlight the darker side of today’s society, Morton-Clark’s artworks also draw on the nostalgic and universal connection that we all have to cartoons in a quest to connect to everyday life.
The energy of Morton-Clark’s work exists through their combination of intense colours, spontaneous drawings, and a connection to our past through these endearing, well-known figures.. While the characters evoke a collection of emotions and expressions from surprise to fear, we are engulfed in a state of curiosity. Even the chaotic, exaggerated portions of his work are expressed with such a natural frankness that they are transformed into positive elements that inspire vitality and liveliness.
Following the devastating blast in Beirut, Opera Gallery London will
be showing their support by donating part of the proceeds from their new exhibition George Morton-Clark: This Is As Far As I Started to the Department of Pediatrics at St. Georges Hospital in Beirut. Opera Gallery London will be working closely with the Opera Gallery in Beirut which was is located near the harbour.
We would like to thank the artist for his commitment and welcome you in this celebration of life.
Founder and Chairman
Opera Gallery Group
Opera Gallery London
The exhibition is a collection of paintings that were started before and after ‘lockdown’ hence the title ‘This Is As Far As I Started”. This year has been very strange and muddled at best, which I wanted to convey in the title. During the time spent painting for the show, it was done at a more relaxed pace than usual. It seemed like time had slowed down for the majority of us. The paintings were able to sit with me a great deal longer than usual. I was able to get to know them more and spend a long time adjusting each piece. I find there is a very nostalgic connection to the characters I use in the paintings, and they are there as a vessel to show form and movement. They are used in an abstract way to convey an image I want to build. The characters are placed as a connection to the audience. Instead of telling someone how to listen to music or a song, they will make their own minds up and assimilate with the painting themselves. Rather than presenting a grand, elaborate theme, I present a painting that will make the viewer connect with what is in front of them.
You studied animation at university, what inspired the switch to fine art? What was that journey like?
I found the switch very easy. With animation, I did not have as much creative control as I wanted. I have always been a painter so the switch
was not very hard for me. The reason
I went into animation in the first place was my love for cartoons and anime. After studying for 3 years I realised even though I loved it, it was not for me. I was more drawn to the traditional practice
of animation and I could see it was changing very fast to computers. I love the freedom and the mess you can make with brushes and canvas. The immediacy of using paint on a canvas and seeing it in real life, this you will not find in animation.
How does your experience in animation influence the work you do now?
The experience of drawing thousands upon thousands of cells definitely gives you a lot of practice! I am sure whilst I was doing my degree my drawing skills went up a notch! In animation, I would use different styles of drawing which comes in good use as a painter being able to switch up styles. I also learnt to be patient.
What meanings do you think cartoon characters carry? Are those meanings important in your creative process?
There is a very nostalgic connection to cartoons. We all see and grow up with them in our most informative years. I use these images as a vessel to create abstractions in my work. It gives the viewer already a meaning and a connection to the painting before they look at the rest of the picture. This is a hook to capture the viewer.
What is the meaning of your title’s work? Do they have a particular importance for the viewer’s understanding of your work?
The titles I come up with are from everyday life. When having conversations with people you do not realise there are some great throwaway phrases that we constantly use on a daily basis. I store these phrases and then when I find the right painting I will match it to them. Sometimes a title will instantly come to me by just looking at the painting.
Do you realise notes or sketches before starting your paintings? Do you know in advance what you’re going to create?
No, not in the slightest. The immediacy of my work is very apparent. I love the mistakes I make and incorporate them into my work. Some of the best paintings I have done have come from mistakes. I will use these and then follow the path to the end result. This way, I too am surprised by the outcome and creates a freshness to my work. So I am constantly evolving and falling in love with the craft on a daily basis.
Does your creative process begin with the choice of a particular cartoon character?
Sometimes, but rarely. I first start by creating an abstract painting with the background then formulating an image to the foreground.
Do you attach as much importance to the creative process as to the final result?
Yes, I think the creative process is massively important. It is not like a switch that can be turned on. As I get older the better I understand how to harness it. At the end of the day, it is the reason you have the final result.
Is there room for accident in your working process?
Yes, this is my main goal in every painting as without this you are treading the same path and getting the same results. It is a crucial part to growing and finding new areas to explore.
What movement or type of art do you most identify with?
None really. I like to be inspired by a whole spectrum of artists. It is like listening to music, somedays you want light music some days fast. It all depends on your mood and how I feel that day.
In your future works, do you consider using another material? What challenge would you like to take up?
I am always using different materials and mediums. In my studio, there are
all the past relics of different mediums I have explored with. Sometimes I will go back to them as it will best suit an idea I have. At the moment I am using different materials and sewing them together. I like my work to have an aged effect but with a contemporary feel. I like the contrast of this idea.
Do you think you’re redirecting yourself towards more contemporary animated characters, such as Disney or Pixar characters? Would they have a different meaning from your current characters, which mostly come from cartoons?
To be honest I do not set out to choose any type of character. I use the character as an abstract form to convey an image I want to build. I find the more identifiable the character, the more nostalgic the piece will be, and greater an appeal it will have to a large audience