The brilliant British-born New York pop realist Malcolm Morley (b. 1931), back in the studio after something of a dramatic health scare, presents a dozen new paintings of World War II aerial combat. Dynamic and sophisticated in color, the new works are spectacular scenes of soaring dogfights, Spitfires and Messerschmitts outlined against a bright blue sky.
A group of portraits of fighting aces are based on illustrations from Morley’s youth, when he would watch the soaring aircraft above a field near his home, an experience of “bliss.” Two of the new paintings are self-portraits that place “Major Morley” in a World War I Sopwith Camel.
Close observation of the dogfight depicted in Rules of Engagement (2011) reveals a small brush attached to the surface, right in the muzzle blast of the plane’s guns. “I wanted to represent ‘Make art, not war’,” Morley said.
The Paris-based art critic Brooks Adams wrote the essay in the accompanying catalogue.
“Malcolm Morley: Rules of Engagement,” Mar. 31-Apr. 30, 2011, at Sperone Westwater, 257 Bowery, New York, N.Y. 10002.
WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.