Sarah Morris is known for clean, bright paintings that pop off one another in beautiful harmony, and when you enter the London-born New Yorker’s current show, it’s as if the electrifying zeal of Rio de Janeiro – a city of constant unrest – has been transplanted to Bermondsey.
Although the patterns recall the graphics used on the BBC test card, the grids and curves are actually influenced by Rio’s lively culture of sport and spectacle. ‘Sambadróme Marquês de Sapucaí [Rio]’ is inspired by the parade ground, designed by acclaimed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, where samba schools compete during Carnival. ‘Jockey Club Brasileiro [Rio]’ is derived from the city’s horse racing grounds. Morris’s colour palette is informed by her collection of source material from the city – ranging from bikini thongs to bits of industrial design.
Created by Morris’s long-time collaborator Liam Gillick, the electro acoustic soundtrack of her film ‘Rio’ enhances your experience of the paintings. Bleeding from the screening space, it accentuates their graphic forms while beckoning you to watch the film.
It’s worth sitting through every second of these triumphant 88 minutes. Through focused shots, sweeping pans and clever cuts featuring street vendors, factory workers and Ipanema beach, Morris captures a city at odds with itself – beautiful but on the brink.