compelling, powerful and passionate; these are words often used to describe the work of
well-known artist Jim Morphesis.
Morphesis made his reputation from his
intense paintings of the male torso, derived from the image of the crucifixion, an
omnipresent element in his art to this day. The artist was raised Greek Orthodox and often
attended church with his grandmother.
a child, one of the earliest and most impressive images that I can recall was this
painting above the altar, of this guy, brave and vulnerable, nailed to a piece of wood.
The interior [of the church] was decorated in a traditional Byzantine style, filled with
icons and other really unusual paintings, so it was opulent and very lush," remembers
The influence is evident, as his work has
been described as that of a cross between ancient Greek sculpture and Orthodox Byzantine
decoration producing a kind of powerful "California Raphael."
expressionistic figurations deal primarily with the heroic and tragic figures found in
Scripture and classical mythology. With a tendency to repeat the same physical stance of
his torso subject matter, his work has preserved its strong emotional intensity yet
continues to evolve. Through the years, the spiritual theme of Morphesis work has
remained, although changing stylistically. The work has ranged from precise rendering to a
more physical, gestured approach.
The paintings, varying in size, have
utilized colors ranging from earthly to brilliant.
When asked what it
is that motivates him, Morphesis replies, "Passion." The
emotion is clearly evident in the work, as his art is sure to strike
a cord with all who see it.
Morphesis has been
seen in more than 30 one-man exhibitions since 1972, and his work
can be seen in numerous museum and corporate collections. Some of
these include, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles
County Museum of Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Bloom,
Hergott, Cook, Diemer & Klein, and Bank of America.