Morgan Betz

Morgiana

untitled, 2011

After two exhibitions by artists of a certain age (Emo Verkerk and Rob van Koningsbruggen), it is now the turn of the multifaceted artist Morgan Betz (born in 1974), who presents a challenging exhibition that tests his viewers’ powers of observation in playful and sometimes provocative ways. Anyone hoping for a comfortable experience would be well advised to stay away.

What Betz’s art makes clear is that a great deal of present-day art is irrelevant because it does not demonstrate its legitimacy. Every work of art must be able to answer the question of whether it is truly of any added value. Beauty in itself does not suffice. Betz’s paintings and objects are certainly not beautiful, in the classical sense of the word. He deliberately crashes off the track to find out whether anything new can be made from the ruins. He has a subtle gift for subversion, a talent that is sadly lacking from much contemporary art.

How does this subversion work? Betz is capable of drawing inspiration and influence from the maladjusted and tragicomic elements of our everyday lives. It takes courage to turn away from the customary practices of rationalization and conceptualisation in today’s visual culture.

How does it demonstrate its relevance? His work can be described as a reservoir of images, fragments, and quotations. The accumulation of all these layers enables Betz to redefine the material he has collected in terms of content. The process of making the work becomes an exercise in finding the right balance between directness, construction, and the tension of a planned outcome. Betz’s quest is for a closing equilibrium in which the image achieves tranquillity: the moment at which it needs nothing beyond itself in order to convince, and is no longer an illustration of ideas.

Is the final result radical enough? Betz’s method of making objects and figures enables him to create an open narrative line with oblique references to themes ranging from revolution and utopia to beauty, transience and decay. But an artist who is eager to avoid his content being interpreted as a calculated social message can obviously derive the greatest benefit from an astute choice of visual resources. And in making such choices, Betz is not afraid to take a step back and to re-examine the fundamental formal principles of painting and sculpture.

untitled, 2011
untitled, 2011

Artworks

untitled (Tokugawa), 2011

untitled (Tokugawa), 2011

acrylic dispersion on canvas
150 x 120,5 cm
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untitled, 2011

untitled, 2011

pigment, acrylic and gouache on canvas
150 x 120.5 cm
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untitled, 2011

untitled, 2011

oil and paper maché on canvas
50 x 40 cm
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untitled, 2011

untitled, 2011

oil on panel on canvas
50 x 40 cm
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untitled, 2011

untitled, 2011

pencil on paper
34.50 x 26 cm
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untitled, 2011

untitled, 2011

pigment on canvas
130 x 190,5 cm
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untitled, 2011

untitled, 2011

pigment, paint and collage on canvas
150 x 120,5 cm
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Constant Gardener, 2011

Constant Gardener, 2011

pencil on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
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Fool, 2011

Fool, 2011

oil on canvas
30 x 24 cm
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For birds (zombie), 2011,

For birds (zombie), 2011,

pigment and gouache on canvas
150 x 120,5 cm
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Fortune cookie, 2011

Fortune cookie, 2011

oil on canvas
59,50 x 50 cm
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Ghost, 2011

Ghost, 2011

charcoal on paper
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Jack London, 2011

Jack London, 2011

oil on canvas
60 x 49,5 cm
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Origami, 2011

Origami, 2011

oil on canvas
120 x 90 cm
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snake on a bike, 2011

snake on a bike, 2011

pencil on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
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Spider, 2011

Spider, 2011

pigment and gouache on canvas
30 x 40 cm
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The moon in a trash can, 2011,

The moon in a trash can, 2011,

ink and goache on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
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There are roads in our shoes, 2011

There are roads in our shoes, 2011

watercolor, chalk and collage on canvas
150 x 120,50 cm
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untitled(clock), 2011

untitled(clock), 2011

gouache on panel on canvas
50 x 40 cm
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untitled(Good News Makes You Happy), 2011

untitled(Good News Makes You Happy), 2011

collage and gouache on canvas
30 x 24 cm
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untitled(mirror), 2011

untitled(mirror), 2011

oil and paper maché on canvas
40.5 x 30.5 cm
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