These portraits examine the light and dark sides of the human psyche by pairing saturated color spectrums with muted tones of sepia and gray; the contrast serving as a visual metaphor for polarities of consciousness. ‘Turning the Tide’ refers to the act of reversing the direction of energy and thought by transforming the darkness to light, and inversely, turning lightness to dark and revealing the psychological shadow. Psychiatrist Carl Jung speaks of the shadow as symbolizing that of which we are unaware of within the self. Jung says, To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by ‘the self’.
The manipulation of color in Morgan’s paintings illustrates a self that exists within a paradox of opposites. By limiting the pallet, she was able to simplify the body, allowing a deeper exploration into the psychic layers of the subject matter. The inverted portraits invite the viewer to witness light and shadow, trade places, and thus venture into the obscurity of the subconscious. The layers of color glazed over the figure activate the narrow pallet, pulling the subject back to life. This dichotomy is a visual representation of the struggle of the inner self to balance ones ebb and flow. Morgan’s use of loved ones and her own portrait as subject matter provides the opportunity to intimately investigate her relationships with these individuals and with herself.
Jenny Morgan is one of the most recognisable young artists painting the figurative form today. Her work intertwines figurative realism with graphic forms, demonstrating exceptional technique paired with a subtle and confident use of abstraction. Reverberating with an almost religious aura, Morgan's work suggests psychedelic flashes or perhaps figures in transformative, or transcendent processes. As Morgan explains, the work ‘manipulates the figure to expose the individual’s idiosyncrasies and create a physiological portrait’. In fact, Morgan seems to do away with any extraneous information, focusing the painting on the specific psychological state of the sitter, presenting their personalities as she herself experiences them. In short, these vivid portraits are grand metaphorical insights into into the personality of the individual represented.