Frank Morris on rock, paper, scissors and sighing


Frank Morris’s paintings in Rock, Paper, Scissors, Sigh are an exercise in formal innovation, to the point that ‘paintings’ may not be quite the right descriptor. These alluring and colourful abstract works, made largely from plaster, acrylic and oil on oriented strand board (OSB), are designed to be viewed from any physical angle. As a result, they approach a form of sculpture.

The intention is, for Morris, to allow the viewer to construct interpretation however they wish. There is also a creative decision to be made for the curator or installer. “The idea of choice is operational,” says Fremantle-based Morris, “with all works able to be positioned through 360 degrees.”

Morris says that his pieces are informed by “ideas of landscape and country” as well as “modernist icons”, adding that “both are prone to erosion”. But again, the importance of these influences falls away against Morris’s wish for his art to be open to multiple, perhaps endless, meanings. “Whatever the references operating [in creation], there is no presumption that those references are carried to the viewer. Where it goes belongs to them,” he says.

“Painting is complex and complicated. Literal, figurative and metaphorical conversations overlap and inform.”

Morris also starts many of his works by reappropriating waste materials. “The paintings are a continuation of my previous work in that their beginnings were provided by litter and redundant cardboard packaging.” The exhibition’s title, meanwhile, represents Morris’s aesthetic intentions, as well as a more prosaic reference point. “Rock, paper, scissors alludes to oscillating relationships and a methodology for decisions,” says Morris. “It is also the name of a hairdressing salon which I pass on my way to the studio.

“And ‘sigh’? Well, a sigh, is a sigh, is a sigh.”

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Sigh
Frank Morris
Art Collective WA
20 May—18 June

This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Barnaby Smith