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Pard Morrison’s bold designs meld painting and sculpture

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Pard Morrison’s “Candy Drop Star Ride” is among the geometric works on view in “Spontaneous Order.” (Courtesy Brian Gross Fine Art)

Pard Morrison creates fusions of painting and sculpture in a style rooted in 20th-century geometric abstraction and minimalism, but distinguished by a friendlier and contemporary look. Known for his multicolored rectangles, Morrison recently has introduced large expanses of uniform color to his depictions of systems in flux.

“Spontaneous Order,” a show on view through Aug. 29 at Brian Gross Fine Art gallery in The City, contains seven shaped wall paintings and one freestanding sculpture by the Colorado-based artist, whose method involves the enameling process of patination _ he fires pigment onto aluminum.

Morrison’s wall pieces contain extensive areas of a single hue, which represent multiple facets or planes and make for a picture of vastness. Combined with these are smaller broad strips of delineated, multicolored rectilinear forms in tones that conflict with those of the large, uniformly colored areas — blue is placed next to orange, or pink next to green, for example.

Morrison also gives the works a third dimension by folding some of his colorful blocks around the edge of the painting and extending them back to the wall.

Together, these elements give rise to a sense of tension and reflect what the artist has described as a desire to create “momentary portraits of systems that are in flux.”

The patination process, meanwhile, allows Morrison to create minimalist works that are more painterly and inviting than the art associated with the movement of half a century ago. Each piece has a distinct personality, and the titles, too, indicate that Morrison wants viewers to consider his works in human terms.

The playfully named “Candy Drop Star Ride” (30 x 48 x 1.25 inches) contains two solid-colored masses, one orange and the other a compatible salmon tone, that look like soulmate abstractions floating through space. Small bands of multicolored rectangular shapes suggest contrary activity and a stirring of change.

In “Leap of Faith” (42 by 60 by 1.75 inches), a solid-color, placid-looking sky-blue area is next to brightly, differently colored rectangles — a composition conveying the dynamic of breaking away.

The show also includes “Outlier” (108 by 32 by 13 inches), a towering sculpture of six vividly painted, stacked blocks. The arrangement is eye-pleasing, but not quite comforting; the blocks appear to be on the verge of something.

Morrison’s work has been shown throughout the nation and is in the collections of the Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, N.M; the Colorado State University Art Museum, Fort Collins, Colo.; and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles, among other sites.

Pard Morrison: Spontaneous Order
Where: Brian Gross Fine Art, 248 Utah St., S.F.
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; closes Aug. 29
Admission: Free
Contact: (415) 788-1050, www.briangrossfineart.com

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