James Morrison: The Great Tasmanian Wars
Intimate in detail and epic in scope, James Morrison’s The Great Tasmanian Wars, 2004, presents the landscape as an elongated and panoramic vision, albeit a fragmented one, seen through a kaleidoscope of collapsing timescales, disjointed narratives, and diverse topographies.
Across 55 small canvas panels, evolution and imagination, reality and fantasy, geology and history, continuously interweave and intersect as Dodo birds, thylacines and platypuses co-exist with flitting fairies, giant, mutant insects and brooding vampires in a rich pageant of bright, iridescent colours. This dizzying collage of elements extracted from widely divergent places and times disorients the viewer in a landscape of uncertainty and flux.
With its vast compendium of visual references and styles presented simultaneously in a non-hierarchical procession, Morrison’s painting dismantles the notion of the ‘grand narrative’, a singular, fixed, comprehensive and objective account of history, and supplants it with a sprawling, multiple, unstable concoction of possibilities and impossibilities.