Jordan Lance Morgan describes himself as a figurative painter, and he seems concentrated on the head and face. Yet, his work doesn’t feel as if a limitation has been imposed on the artist and his themes, and Morgan imbues his work with a powerful sense of narrative. His subjects are captured indoors, but there is little evidence of a typical studio environment: the lighting is muted and the surroundings feel urban and dank, as if we have wandered into an abandoned basement.
“I am a figurative painter with an emphasis on portraiture, symbolism and storytelling,” explains Morgan. “While my work reflects a desire for realism, my main concern is to emphasize tension between the illusion of volume and flatness within the picture plane. Beyond this formal interest, I am heavily influenced by early American art, historical iconography, military and political history.”
The allusions to history were once overt in Morgan’s work – portraits of individuals in military uniform that were strictly formal in their composition, but in these recent paintings, the references are more elusive: a Phrygian cap, an early 20th century German army helmet, and…could that be Benjamin Franklin in the dour, oversize portrait, “Rising and Setting”, or are we just meant to ponder the identity? In any event, the image is startling in its immediacy, demanding attention from the viewer and displaying a sure psychological understanding.
“I paint and draw to understand people. Aesthetically I am constantly changing how to produce a portrait. My ambition is to connect myself and the viewer with history and the people who made it.”
Morgan certainly seems in control of his medium and the expression of his themes, yet we catch him here in a moment of crucial development, an emerging artists who is ready to launch.
Hometown: Goshen, Kentucky
Education: BFA, University of Louisville, 2012, Lou, KY; MFA, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2016, Philadelphia, PA
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.