Gabe Morton-Cook was born in 1982 in Silver City, New Mexico to an extended family of artists, writers and academics, Morton-Cook spent his early youth in the visually dynamic and creatively rich high desert of the American Southwest. As a child he would spend hours immersed in his grandfather’s science books and atlases, exploring his father’s cactus gardens or studying his mother’s collections of intricately patterned fabrics. His bedroom walls were covered in maps, posters of the planets and prints of works by Escher, Dali and Picasso.
Morton-Cook studied Art and Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and had a 15-year career in professional design with a trajectory from graphic design through web development and user experience design for digital products. A move to upstate New York in 2018 came with an opportunity to refocus his creative energies into his early passion for drawing and painting.
He finds inspiration in both the organic, dynamic fractal patterns of the natural world and the orderly, mathematical precision of human-made engineering and architecture. These influences are present in his diverse range of two-dimensional works. His preferred media are acrylic paint and markers on canvas or black ink and graphite on paper. Morton-Cook’s methods oscillate between the focused, planned precision of realism and drafting, and the organic, physical intuition of expressionism, often in the same work.
I am interested in art as a bridge between the realm of the physical and that of emotional experience. What happens inside our mind when a yellow spot becomes the sun? Physically, just a smudge of pigment on a surface, it is experienced emotionally as the life-giving energy at the center of our solar system. Through the process of painting, the paint is imbued with warmth and light and billions of years of history.
In its role as a bridge between perception and reality, art can also serve to highlight a dissonance between other simultaneous truths: opposites that exist only relative to one another and echo throughout the human experience. The yin and yang that express themselves as pleasure and pain, light and dark, desire and repulsion.
My paintings attempt to venture to various vantage points along this bridge, exploring the tension of duality. I hope that by exploring the gradient between abstraction and representation in my work, the viewer may become aware of a feeling that is itself a contradiction: simultaneously disturbing and comforting.