In the course of 30 minutes with up-and-coming local artist Kyle Morrissey, we’ve discussed theoretical physics, nature, animals, and the landscapes of the Renaissance.
No, really, I’m not kidding. We touched on them all as we chatted about life, love, and art while drinking Chai.
“I’m a little obsessed with theoretical physics,” he says, taking a sip while examples of his vibrant, colorful artwork litter the table between us. “The idea of super-symmetry, the multiple dimensions of the world.”
No, we haven’t stumbled into an episode of Doctor Who. He’s talking real physics here, and how it influences his art. I can see it in the top piece — for each object on the collage/painting, there’s an opposing object on the other side of the canvas. Per Morrissey, they’re actually “meant to evoke a sort of sensory overload” in which the “unfolding drama’s in super-symmetrical proportions. They aim to suggest a singularity and unknown seen only between and above the edges of packed-together masses of information.”
A year out of Winthrop University, Morrissey has a nearly obsessive attention to detail. “I’m not diagnosed,” he says, laughing. “But I definitely have some OCD tendencies. I’m obsessed with counting and cutting.”
The process behind his art is one he learned during a summer class in his senior year of college. Professor Seth Rouser, a print-maker and painter, showed him how to paint on glass and then transfer the images to canvas. The resulting works, shiny and smooth with luxurious colors, became an obsession for Morrissey. These paintings will make up his first show.
Painting on glass is the exact opposite of painting on canvas. Instead of beginning with a background and building up focal points as he goes, Morrissey starts each painting with its core image, anchoring the piece to one particular thought from the moment of inception. Then he begins to layer in the other images, one at a time. His studio, he says, is filled with images. “To see my studio,” he says, “you might think I’m a paranoid schizophrenic or something.” He laughs as he says this, all mischievousness and fun.
The works he will display have several influences. He loves the landscape paintings of Renaissance artists like Bosch and Bruegel, and Morrissey’s pieces clearly reflect the layout of their works. Instead of landscapes, though, he uses images from old National Geographic magazines to fill his canvases with pictures of animals, people, and mid-20th century technology.
The overall theme, though, is perhaps a bit grim. He’s creating his own version of the apocalypse, albeit a different apocalypse than we see in most media today. Instead of zombies and the end times, he reflects more on the past, and how far we’ve come. He asks a great question. “I feel like we learn and know so much, but where are we really going with it all?” I, of course, have no answer for him. But that’s exactly his point — we have all the knowledge, with no idea of what to do with it.
Morrissey’s show will be held at Lime Blue Gallery on Queen Street, a place owned and curated by his friend and mentor Jeff Kopish. Kopish has been a great supporter of his since the two met not long ago via Morrissey’s brother Kevin, also an artist and an art teacher at Morrissey’s old middle school. Morrissey loves the warmth of the gallery, the kitschy displays, and the lack of white-wall space to fill.
As we finish our chat and Morrissey begins packing up the pieces he brought with him, a nearby couple reaches out. “May we see?” He’s happy to show them, and their reactions are warm and effusive. They comment on the beauty, the shine, the elaborate process they’ve overheard him describe. He has two new fans, and he smiles, all graciousness and charm. Because that’s what he is: a gracious, charming new artist with an exciting show close at hand, and the artistic talent to make it all work.