Sigmund Freud Stars in Andre von Morisse’s Pop Paintings
At Art 3, a gallery on an industrial backstreet in Bushwick, Andre von Morisse’s large works pop from the walls. Cleverly titled “Pink Freud and the Pleasant Horizon,” the show contains a mix of paintings and photographs of paintings. From a distance, the images look sharp but become hazy at closer range. This visual trickery adds to von Morisse’s humorous world, where such cultural phenomenons as the rock band Pink Floyd and Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, can be conflated.
To create the works on view, Von Morisse starts off by painting a picture in black and white, which he photographs with black-and-white film. He then enlarges the photo before mounting it in a shadow box. The layering of techniques produces unusual effects. In Dream Theories (Pink Freud and the Pleasant Horizon) (2015), for instance, the manipulation of the image leaves a grainy layer over von Morisse’s otherwise precise brushwork, rendering the scene just hazy enough to think you need glasses. Through the fuzz, Freud forges a lightning bolt while a Koons-inspired balloon dog watches. The absurd narratives von Morisse weaves seem to live in the subconscious, rather than in personal memory or even the illusionism of the canvas. It’s a funny twist that the artist uses Freud himself as a pictorial device for such an endeavor.
Freud appears in numerous images, often grimacing while holding a hot dog, surrounded by an uncanny cohort of pop cultural and art historical references. In one work, Freud is shown riding a train, with van Gogh’s Starry Night (1889) out the window, as a fellow passenger presents him with an encased electricity bolt. The balloon dog pops up here too, hilariously topped with a halo. Is this funny, albeit faithful companion Freud’s guardian angel? The scene seems to suggest a connection between psychology, religion, and art history—and their combined influence on human life. In Clash of the Titans in Central Park (2015), the balloon dog grows to a godly scale. Replacing Freud as the central figure, it battles a Tyrannosaurus Rex, managing not to burst.
Freud and the Pleasant Horizon) (2012), the train is repeated in a diagonal checkerboard pattern, floating in plumes of pink smoke. The pink clouds go on for miles, like waves of cotton candy, perhaps shrouding von Morisse’s characters in a dream world where pop culture and psychoanalysis are indistinguishable from one another.
“Pink Freud and the Pleasant Horizon” is on view at Art 3, Brooklyn, Oct. 28–Dec. 13, 2015.