ROBERT C. MORGAN
LIGHT STREAK AND DARK ENLIGHTENMENT
All our knowledge consisting … in the view the mind has of its
own ideas, which is the utmost light and greatest certainty we, with our
faculties and in our way of knowledge, are capable of, it may not be
amiss to consider a little the degrees of its evidence.
— John Locke
Sideshow is pleased to present Light Streak and Dark Enlightenment — new paintings and an early installation reconstructed by artist and writer Robert C., Morgan. For his second solo exhibition at the gallery, Morgan has chosen to work with the concept of The Enlightenment in a series of new paintings using six elements (and/or symbols) in relation to two dominant color fields, painted in ultramarine and raw umber. The artist works with various logical permutations of these signs, thereby suggesting that their visual syntax and order determined both optical and symbolic meaning. Painted in three metallic pigments, the impact of exterior light against the dark surfaces is striking. While some may read these signs in a neo-metaphysical context, Morgan is equally interested in how to translate elements of The Enlightenment — particularly in the philosophy of the late eighteenth century philosopher, John Locke – into a code of liberation through rationality. Put in a more narrative context, Morgan is searching for where the rational basis of Locke’s prototype for democracy went wrong in terms of the experiment called the United States of America.
In contrast to the rational basis of this nation state, Morgan’s reconstruction of an earlier installation, titled Dark Enlightenment, involve an aluminum cast sculpture, a wall text, and two figurative expressionist-style paintings (developed between 1974 – 1987), representing the dark side of The Enlightenment — the chaos, destruction, horror, and the absurd. The impact of this carefully choreographed, breathtaking room-size installation intends to provoke a reflection on the antipodal scope of “human understanding” (Locke), when the light of rationality is usurped by the dark side of human nature. The experience of viewing the paintings of the recent Light Streak series and the reconstructed installation Dark Enlightenment offers the viewer a compelling, thoughtful, and intensely emotional experience.