Sarah Morris - Galerie Max Hetzler

Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to present Chinatowns, an exhibition of recent paintings by Sarah Morris, which are part of her latest project Beijing, and a new film, Robert Towne, which will be on view in an additional space off of the gallery courtyard.

Sarah Morris’ geometric paintings of architectural details of metropolises translate urban three-dimensional structures into a code of surfaces. The new paintings focus on the city of Beijing, the site for the 2008 Olympic games. An upcoming film by Morris will document the games and the city as it undergoes dynamic change. Architecture, the role of the state, and the aesthetic tension between the commercial and the political will be at the heart of the new project. There are two sets of paintings being developed in parallel to each other in relation to Beijing: Rings and Origami. Along with her latest film Robert Towne (2006), Morris demonstrates her interest in providing insights into the inner structure and psychologies of urban systems in relation to power, as well as their external surfaces.
The Rings series takes as its main reference point the city’s increasingly congested traffic arteries known as the Ring Roads. The 1st Ring Road was named at the end of the Cultural Revolution. The original names of the roads had been changed to express the strong political propaganda required to eulogize and advocate the ideology of the Cultural Revolution. When the political turmoil ended, the names had to be changed again. The ring roads may be seen as analogous to the Olympic rings and the upcoming event that is changing the face of the city. The titles 1948 (Rings), 1964 (Rings) and 2002 (Rings) designate the past years of the Olympics, their corresponding cities, and its seriality.

The Origami series is based on found origami diagrams. It is commonly accepted that origami originated in China with the advent of paper in the 1st century AD and then spread to Japan in 600 AD. Contemporary applications of origami range from the continuation of ancient traditions, to more contemporary mathematical and engineering solutions such as a sterile heart valve. It is a simple process which gives rise to complex forms. The paintings refer to traditional origami diagrams, which depict an unfolded pattern of creases. Combining mathematical calculations and geometrical operations, a single canvas turns into a highly complex spatial sculpture and back into a plain diagram. Morris is mainly interested in how origami in popular culture, particularly film, is often used to signify an impending event.

Robert Towne, (2006), is the sixth film directed by Sarah Morris. Robert Towne is the legendary screenwriter, director and “script doctor” who won an Academy Award for Chinatown (1974). The lens shifts from a wide view of a city to an intimate portrait. Morris’ interview topics range from psychiatry, the film Chinatown, the role of authorship, the development of Los Angeles, deal making, and his relations with colleagues such as Robert Evans, Warren Beatty and Pauline Kael. Details of his work place appear throughout the interview, which is accompanied by Liam Gillick’s music. He speaks openly about conspiracy, paranoia, corruption and power. 

Towne is best known for his screenplays, which include Chinatown (1974), Shampoo (1975) and Personal Best (1982), and for restructuring and doctoring such films as Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Godfather (1972) and The Parallax View (1974). His works are marked by their moral ambivalence, realistic dialogue and ruthless dissection of cruel and corrupt systems of social authority. Morris describes him as "an elliptical figure" whose career exemplifies a certain characteristic mode of working typified by collaboration, behind-the-scenes influence, and shared or changing roles. In this way, the film is a new way of working for Morris since it explores the city from the inside out, through the words of an individual operating within its systems of power. This film is a first in a series of film portraits by Morris. The second of which will be shown at Lenbachhaus in April 2008.

Born in 1967 Sarah Morris lives in London and New York. This is her 4th solo exhibition at Galerie Max Hetzler. She has been featured in numerous exhibitions including: Whitechapel Gallery, London (2007); What is Painting, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); The Shapes of Space, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2007); Big Bang, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2005); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (2006); Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2005); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2002); Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2001); Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich (2000); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1999); Le Consortium, Dijon (1998).