Malcom Morley’s late, last work is a battle royal starring larger and brighter than life medieval knights, exquisitely painted sets of armors, shields, banners and castles in a world where, at any moment, mounted knights can fly, Trojan horses spar with an intergalactic spaceship-like creature, and men, ready for combat, are cross jousting lances without ever spilling a single drop of blood.
Throughout these works, some completed just months before his own death, are warriors and leaders also struggling with death, some in their last gasp. And throughout his long career, painting was in fact a struggle against time, money, five marriages, bouts with suicidal depression and a near constant search for perfection, reinvention and originality.
In fact, Morley’s first desire to paint was survival, in prison, where he created enough work to be accepted into art school shortly after his release. At the time, as he told The Guardian in 2013, “The idea that you could make something of yourself through art was very strong,”
And throughout his long and storied career, Morley was constantly making and re-making himself, show after show, revealing his internal narratives, battles, and intense intellectual curiosity driven by the stamina of an art warrior, a modern day medieval knight.