Victoria Morton’s work includes painting, sound, found objects, garments and photography. While it often appears spontaneous or improvised, it is based on a deep understanding of art theory. Her work as an artist sits alongside an active involvement with music production, most recently as a member of the band Muscles of Joy and in collaboration with Jer Reid.
The painting Dirty Burning (1997) – named after the 1992 album Dirty by Sonic Youth – was a pivotal work for the artist. It was painted over a period of a year, with no preconceived final image in mind, continually changing and expanding to include ideas and actions from many different kinds of sources. The work Dream House, a collaborative sound and light environment by composer La Monte Young and visual artist Marian Zazeela which Morton saw in New York in 1991, had a profound influence on the artist and on Dirty Burning, as it uses repetition, tone and duration to confuse expectation and slow down the act of looking. By making the canvas extraordinarily full of colour and form, Morton wished to create an expansive space to envelop and perhaps overwhelm the viewer. This desire relates to Morton’s interest in music’s non-verbal expressive qualities and the belief that paintings can resonate on psychological and emotional levels as well as contain theoretical ideas.
In more recent installations, paintings and sculptures (using found objects) are brought together, extending the composition of the paintings. Morton weaves reflections on historical painting, literature and day-to-day life into the artworks, which combine to communicate an altered sense of lived experience. A painted headboard is positioned in the middle of a room, a dress is draped on a metal frame, the battered wooden stepladders that the artist used when painting large canvases remain in the gallery. These actions emphasise the domestic and suggest that painting belongs in the real world rather than the sanctified, dehumanised environment of the museum.