VICTORIA – Winchester Galleries is honoured to show previously unseen work from “the Berlin period” of Victoria-based painter Michael Morris. THE COLD WAR: A WINTER’S TALE will run October 3 through 28 at the downtown gallery. Everyone is invited to the opening reception on Thursday, October 12, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. when Michael Morris will be in attendance.
Michael Morris is a painter, photographer, video and performance artist and curator. His work is often media based and collaborative, involved with developing networks and in the production and presentation of new art activity. He is a Canadian, born in Saltdean England in 1942. In 1969 he founded the Image Bank with Vincent Trasov, a method for personal exchange between artists; 1973 he was co-founder and co-director of the Western Front Society, Vancouver; in 1981 he was invited with Trasov to Berlin as guests of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm DAAD; in 1990 he and Trasov founded the Morris/Trasov Archive, which is currently housed at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, to research contemporary art. Morris has curated numerous exhibitions. His work in represented in private and public collections nationally and internationally.
Of THE COLD WAR: A WINTER’S TALE, Morris has said: “I was 38 when I moved to Berlin in 1981. Ronald Reagan was president of the United States and Margret Thatcher, prime minister of Great Britain, and Berlin was a divided city still in the grip of the Cold War. Known for tolerance, the city had a well established gay scene so when the AIDS epidemic hit, it was devastating for the community on both sides of the "wall".
“I had been invited to the city for a residence at DAAD, (German Foreign Academe) with fellow artist Vincent Trasov. We were well known in Vancouver in the seventies for our networking work using the postal system as an Image Bank and later as founders and directors of the Western Front, a center for the production and presentation of new art. Both West and East Berlin were showcases for opposing political, cultural and economic systems. It was a time of tension and confrontation ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of communism in 1991.
“The paintings in this show emphasize unusual combinations of images, abandoned tennis courts, glimpses of landscapes seen from the train, tangled branches and details of figures. As well as the canvases there are works on paper which are mostly figurative. The current show will give a context to a body of work rarely seen since its conception. Now at the beginning of this troubled new millennium, I think of Berlin and my work from those years and I feel it has new relevance.”