Morgan Ward is an artist who embodies the spirit of youth and adventure. His work is vivid, questing and clear-eyed. Each piece is luminous, absorbing and energetic. Coursing across and through each canvas, his marks are tumbling, tendril-like shapes and forms, punctuated with dense squares and dots, to create illusions of that which is not there. Space and depth. Ward uses the platform of a flat, tangible canvas and stretches the visual truth to make the real into the unreal, with ever growing possibilities.
Ward concerns himself with creating this illusion of artificial space by focussing only on line, form and colour. His paintings are the end result of hundreds of preliminary sketches, often in oil pastels, which become the embryonic visual ideas from which each new work will evolve. His final paintings may look free form and gestural but they are the careful architecture of planning, borne from continuous trial and error. The painting stage does have its own development too but these tend towards small tonal shifts, rather than changes to the structure of a final piece.
He describes each painting as ‘self-referential’, by which he means that each work is connected to the previous, the next and so on. That they are inter-linked allows him to visibly unravel the ever-altering possibilities of what can be created. Like electric jolts, they burst up into the canvas, retreat and re-emerge in endless new ways. It is a singular and absorbing pursuit that pushes him to keep asking a most encompassing question - what else?
Conversely, he has a deliberately niche colour palette. This is the result of many colour studies to see how each tonal shift can change the interrelations of the whole composition. His works are solid, dense and saturated with paint. Built up in layers, he then digs away at the surface to create the opposite illusion of depth. One colour from the last finished piece is always filtered into the stretched edge of the next. It is a reminder of their connection and visually merges the point where wall meets canvas. This is crucial for Ward, who aims to draw the eye beyond the physical parameters of the object itself.
As he makes each painting,Ward imagines that it is held only by a small pin, like a set of scales. It becomes a precarious balancing act. One at which he must meticulously work, making small adjustments, keep his eye steady and capture the optimal moment amongst the potential of its own chaos. Each piece must get to a point where, settled and suspended, the force of its electric-like energy can be seen and felt. As we look we may ask “Why is that there?” but we will find, and see, that this is an artist who has nothing needlessly placed.
Ward is in the early stages of his career, after graduating in 2017 with a Fine Art degree from The University of Chichester. He has already been identified as a graduate to watch by It’s Nice That and been publicly exhibited at both The Dot Project and Outset, in London. He sites his influences as Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Bridget Riley and Picasso. Today he lives and works in London and takes the chance to get close to art as much as he can. Often visiting an exhibition several times, so as not to miss something he didn’t see before, he is an artist pushing, re-assessing and looking to gain an ever deeper understanding of his trade.
You can hear the hum of electricity in his thoughts and see it revealed in his art. He has ‘lots to think about” but you can’t help thinking that he already has a lot worked out.