Tucked in a little street just off Rue de Turenne in the 3eme arrondissement is the Galerie Karsten Greve, where the mixed media installations and canvases of London-based artist Claire Morgan are currently on exhibit. I’ve been a fan of Morgan’s work for some time now, and out of sheer excitement I found myself at the gates of the gallery way before opening time (the gallery opens at 10am, by the way).
In her second solo show at the Galerie Karsten Greve, Morgan’s work delves into the desperation – through life and death – of our want and need for control of the world around us.
In the words of the artist: “My attention has been drawn to the cheap distractions we choose to place in our immediate vicinity, with which to screen us from the overwhelming facts: that we are nothing; that our only certainty as individuals is a life, of unspecified duration, and then death.”
Morgan uses thread, bees, flies, butterflies, seed heads and shreds of plastic for her installations, as well as performing the taxidermy for her pieces herself. “The Colossus”, hanging in the main hall of the gallery, is constructed from over 50,000 torn plastic fragments meticulously threaded to form a huge sphere. A taxidermy mute swan is visible from a gap in the middle, its wing tip peeking out from the top. It evokes a feeling of being overwhelmed, a reminder of something greater than us.
In “The Heart of Darkness (II)” she uses blue bottle flies strung through nylon to form a cube. The breathtaking “The Birds and the Bees” explores the “betrayal of beauty and all that goes with it” – a pair of taxidermy blackbirds are enclosed in a circle of honey bees, army-like.
In the final space of the exhibit, isolated in a little room, is “Terminal”. It is a piece that articulates, with torn pieces of white plastic and a taxidermy herring gull, the end of everything : human, action, and velocity.
Also in the exhibit are Morgan’s painting studies, her canvases smeared with blood and preservatives from the process of taxidermy. These are her two-dimensional studies and sketches, which she calls “blood drawings”.
Whether or not you are interested in installation art, this exhibit will be able to draw out a reaction from you, and will make you question all that you deem important and fleeting.
The way everything intersects but never touches and the cyclical theme of each piece makes Quietus one of the best collections I’ve seen, hands down. If there is one exhibit to see before the year ends, it is this. Through her art, Morgan succeeds at showing us that these flies, bees, blackbirds, swans and torn plastic balanced precariously on nylon string are, surprisingly, very much like ourselves : human, terrifying, and staggeringly beautiful.
Quietus runs from September 8 to Novemer 3, 2012
Galerie Karsten Greve [Map]
5 rue Debelleyme, 75003
Metro: Saint Sebastien-Froissart