Tickling Fingers – Lars Morell

Beyond a specific story object

Translations 14, 2023
Map Unavailable
Apr 20 - May 18
10:00 - 17:00

Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

Lars Morell’s paintings don’t immediately hit the viewer with the bombast of primary colours, media saturated symbolism, or overt sexuality however the sense of intrigue, otherness and repetition broadcast a sort of formal delight that pulls you in. Skeletal branches shrouded in light gossamer, lyrical sinews that creates visual pathways around the canvas as you consciously (or not) start to looking for the beginning the end and the tangles of action in-between. The muted presence of skies in the background gives the impression that these ‘branches’ are set in the world. Though they have more in common with strands of proteins than trees or vines that many might recognise. As such their anti-gravitation arrangement gives each piece a weird and unfamiliar energy, a play to inhabit and decipher.

Exhibition Notes: Lars Morell

Skeletal forms wrapped in translucent ribbons create eerie and delicate shapes against ethereal skies. Norwegian artist Lars Morell’s paintings challenge the distinction between the visible and the invisible, our desire to make sense of space, to see things that aren’t always there. Tickling Fingers, Infinite View, his first solo exhibition with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, comprises new additions to what the artist calls his Translation series or abstracted still lifes. Each painting takes as its departure point an object or detail that the artist has observed and strips it back to its barest structure, exploring in the process our emotional response to shapes, lines and colours as well as the ways in which painting can record these different sensations.

While Morell is heavily influenced by what he encounters in his everyday life, he is reluctant to point to specific sources of inspiration, preferring to leave his paintings open to interpretation. The bulging and spindly structures that form shapes at the forefront of these works, for example, could appear as both brutal and fragile, organic and inorganic, bringing to mind perhaps the bare branches of trees, bones, ligaments, something dragged up from the depths of the sea, the body of an alien creature. In one work, this structure is golden, wrapped in ribbons – or bandages? – of pale pink and white against a candy-coloured, rococo-esque sky, in another it is a silvery grey mass seemingly absorbing the blue and metallic tones of the turbulent cloudscape that surrounds it. ‘I am fascinated by proportions and curious about colour, by how things can be read as an appealing shape or not,’ explains Morell.

This is, in part, rooted in the artist’s interest in modernist sculptures, in the work of artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Jean Arp who created pure forms that explored texture, movement and space, but also in Scandinavian landscape painters such as Anna Ancher, Kitty Kielland and Amaldus Nielsen who captured the ephemeral qualities of light. The latter’s influence is most clearly seen in the backdrops of Morell’s paintings which evoke specific temporalities while also conjuring a slightly surreal space. It is this disconnect from reality that allows us to approach the work without expectations, to view each image on its own terms, without needing to define or categorise what’s before us.

At the same time, Morell provides us with a way into each painting, something to hold on to or follow, a tether. He produces a sense of harmony between foreground and background not only through his chosen colour palette, but also through the shimmering, diaphanous brushstrokes that wrap around the central structure. These marks are created using transparent pigments that are applied quickly and precisely in the alla prima (wet-on-wet) technique. As such, they cannot be easily erased or recreated, exposing the movement of the artist’s hand across the canvas or as  Morell puts it, ‘a process of trial and error, the tense dance that happens in the studio.’

Translations 14, 2023

Translations 14, 2023

The show’s title points to this tension as one that is both sensorial and spatial, a push-pull between restlessness and expansiveness, the immediate and the infinite, the body and the mind. And in a sense, this is exactly what Morell’s paintings capture: a sensation, rather than a specific object, place or story. They are both records of the artistic process and an invitation to experience or feel rather than interpret the image.


Lars Morell | 20 April – 18 May
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
533 Old York Road
London SW18 1TG



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