Part 2 from the longer poem Ghost, for Mali, by Martha Kapos, written for the exhibition and catalogue
A Fine day For Seeing
, Southwark Park Galleries, London, 2021

2 Hidden

It looks like a flat surface:
the earth tilting its level rectangles
its bright wide blocks and planes
out around my eye in all directions
a lid shut tight over a secret
only an archaeologist will lovingly uncover
sifting through the long layers far below
the short reach of my eye
where she'd been swimming in a beyond
blue underground lake.

GHOST  2017  200 x 220 cm  Acrylic on canvas
Ghost  2017
200 x 220cm
Acrylic on canvas
From an introduction delivered by Phyllida Barlow at the exhibition Mali Morris: On Paper, at the Tennanat Gallery, Royal Academy, London, in 2019
PARTY  1978  163 x 163 cm  Acrylic on canvas

...And it is the precision of both the incisive aim and the contrasting caress that I am so compelled is there in the early work where the blurred forms dangle and collide, competing for dominance but their apparent disparities of weight, their heaviness and lightness, being equalised and contradicted by their colour - where a heavy brown becomes somehow more buoyant than a vivid blue. And how these qualities take on a vast range of moods as the works evolve...where the acts of seeing become allusive but also definable, where watching, observing, scrutinising, glimpsing, spying, detecting, witnessing, scanning, are beckoned by the bewitching distilling of the moment upon moment which constitutes the experience of standing before a Mali Morris painting…

Party  1978
163 x 163 cm
Acrylic on canvas

From Space Through Colour, Colour Through Space
By Sam Cornish, in
Mali Morris: Painting, published by RA in March 2019

Retaining modernism’s dedication to a sensuous and intuitive investigation of painting’s evolving properties, she has turned inside out many of the solutions developed by her peers and predecessors. Without completely rejecting their example, this has opened her work up to new contexts, and she forms a bridge between older generations and the art of younger painters in Britain. She has created a pictorial world that distantly reflects our experience of the world at large, that filters through her own vision our awareness of light, space and movement, that values the startling detail as much as the certainly delineated whole. Stating complexity with economy, in images both resonant and self-contained, her precision allows ambiguity to be effective.

Morris returns the world to us filled with levity, joy and wit. Light and space are rendered as substance; the hue and materiality of colour luminously open up.

Wilbury Six  2015 70 x 80cm Acrylic on canvas
Wilbury Six  2015
70 x 80cm
Acrylic on canvas
Private Collection

From Preface
By Mel Gooding, for
Mali Morris: Painting, 2019

Morris, freed by abstraction to walk ‘the path of colour’ without the requirement of any direct reference to any thing but the joyful manifestations of the light that colours every thing and fills the space between, has found her own truthful inexactitudes in the vital optical relations between one quasi-geometric area of a painting and another, and between those and still others. And neither are those colour-shapes merely planar or Euclidean, but, like the colours of the world, unfixed and in constant dynamic relation between surface and emanation, distance and nearness, hue and tonal variegation, texture-light and film-colour; between the indeterminate translucencies of shimmer and shadow and the opacities of the reflective object.

Related  2016 60 x 76cm Acrylic on paper
Related  2016
60 x 76cm
Acrylic on paper
Private Collection
From the introduction to Pearled and Pasted and other new paintings, by Sam Cornish, October 2017
Pearled and Pasted  2016 60 x 70 cm (82 x 98 framed)   Acrylic on paper

"...Mali Morris's new paintings are vivid, playful and generous. Some are amongst the most complex she has made in recent years, others the leanest. All are part of her exploration of abstract painting that stretches back over forty years..."


Pearled and Pasted  2016
60 x 70 cm (82 x 98 framed)  
Acrylic on paper
From the essay 'Mali Morris: The Intelligence of Colour' by Peter Suchin, Turps Banana Issue 7 December 2009

" …one soon forgets the geometric configurations that perhaps appear so prominent during an easy first glance. This must be because in giving one’s attention to these works, which have been produced in an elaborate and highly effective fashion, the complexity of their construction (terms arguably more apt in the present case than “composition”) fosters significant results. Colours within Morris’ paintings don’t act in a predictable manner……What results is a mode of colouration that could not be achieved by other means……The incredible and engaging luminosity she achieves, the swing of the space, the associations which emerge, come about through her close engagement with the particularities of what is happening on the canvas as she works it. This approach is therefore not formulaic. Each painting is begun from a position of accumulated technical know-how, history and experience, but the question of the work’s accomplishment or success is never marked out in advance…"

Flotilla  2007 170 x 189cm Acrylic on canvas Collection: Stewarts, London
Flotilla  2007
170 x 189cm
Acrylic on canvas
Collection: Stewarts, London
From the catalogue essay ‘Strange Links: Guide to Morris' 2008, by Matthew Collings, artist, writer, critic & broadcaster; author of This is Civilisation 2008
Loula  2008 51 x 76cm   Acrylic on canvas Private Collection

Mali Morris is a painter who makes you think about paint, and whose paint asks you to think about light. She is not concerned with making paintings represent recognisable objects, but the world, through light effects, is in her paintings... Her paintings are alive not just to a history of abstraction, but in a dialogue with her own method of experimentation. The issues seem to be light and rhythm, and what painting is.


Loula  2008
51 x 76cm  
Acrylic on canvas Private Collection
From the catalogue essay ‘The Singular and the Painterly: Mali Morris’s Recent Work’  2002, by David Ryan, artist, musician and writer, author of Talking Painting: Dialogues with Twelve Contemporary Abstract Painters
Mali Morris’s work thrives on the production of an extremely fresh image – one that is arrested from a fluid painterly process. Her paintings are concentrated, and such is their achievement of openness that they appear to elucidate a particular kind of looking, an individual relationship with the painterly ‘thing’…. Morton Feldman once suggested that one of the dilemmas for the artist was that of operating ‘in’ the work or ‘outside’ of it. Feldman’s own writings vividly testify to a working practice ensconsed in the stuff of materiality, of feeling one’s way and thinking through it. (He) eloquently articulated abstraction itself as a process,  an experience between viewer (or listener) and the artwork. It does not reside in style or approach necessarily, but in the relationship between perceiver and perceived: “The abstract…. is not involved with ideas. It is an inner process that continually appears and becomes familiar like another consciousness. The most difficult thing in art is to keep intact this consciousness of the abstract.” 

Lap (Maroon/Yellow)  1998  40 x 50cm  Acrylic on canvas
Lap (Maroon/Yellow)  1998
40 x 50cm
Acrylic on canvas

From the catalogue essay ‘Mali Morris; Paintings from Four Decades’  2005, by Karen Wilkin, writer, curator and critic:

Peeps  2006  31 x 41cm  Acrylic on canvas
Often, the seemingly imposed swirls, coils, and dots of Morris’s recent images are made by wiping out, by removing, rather than adding pigment. The process creates unpredictable modulations of colour and also makes the “hovering” centralized events read as being simultaneously within and contiguous with their surroundings, a seeming contradiction that heightens the tension of the series. Morris’s comments on the process are the pragmatic responses of a serious working painter. “ taking away is another way of arriving at colour,” she says. “ I don’t want it to be a perceptual conundrum, but spatially I find it really interesting…. And it keeps me thinking ahead – it’s construction through seeing.” 
Peeps  2006
31 x 41cm
Acrylic on canvas
From the catalogue essay 'Mali Morris  - Paintings 1994’  by Martha Kapos, writer and poet:

…The paintings have a simplicity of form that almost looks like emptiness….Yet the handling of surfaces, combining touch and light released by colour, as for example in Around, 1994 and Edge of a Portrait, 1994, creates a feeling of plenitude... Mali Morris has referred to the placing of this light as so suffused and ‘emanating’ as to appear to be ‘in front of the paintings or in the room’. ‘The presence of this luminosity, and its nature, are what determine the success or failure of a painting.’ 
Rose Red Shores  1994 187 x 83cm  Acrylic on canvas
Rose Red Shores  1994
187 x 83cm
Acrylic on canvas
Waltzing  2005  12 x 16 cm  Acrylic on paper
From the catalogue essay ‘Mali Morris – Recent Paintings’ 2003, by Geoff Rigden, artist .…alongside the novel, The Towers of Trebizond, by Rose Macaulay, a seascape by Albert Marquet, a Gene Kelly dance sequence from On The Town, and a recorded disc by the jazz tenorist, Lester Young. With these artists she shares the combined gifts of understatement and authority, clarity, coolness and depth. Her work has never been clamorous nor overwrought and at its present stage is at its most radical, sublime and eloquent….
Waltzing  2005
12 x 16 cm
Acrylic on paper

All images
© Mali Morris 2023