John Morfis was born in Glen Cove, Long Island in 1976. His humble beginnings made pursuing a career in art difficult and paradoxically necessary. Fixated on making things aesthetically pleasing, John made an extreme departure from his family life when he chose to base his life on art. Surrounded by mechanics, welders, and otherwise trade workers John had a tough time expressing his interest in a world much more utilitarian and much less expressive and impractical.
With an extraordinary desire to be an artist and a grant awarded, John was able to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting from the University of Hartford in 1998. While there John studied oil painting under American realist Stephen Brown.
John’s first solo show took place in 2007 at the Ellen Traut Collection Gallery in Hartford, CT and was a near sell out. Since then John has had success up and down the northeastern coast of the United States working with various galleries and collectors. His work has also appeared in various group shows at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut.
Each painting, although a portrait of a tired hand tool, is really my outward expression of the passion I have for objects that serve a humble, yet meaningful purpose. I cannot help but relate to worn-out, forgotten tools the way one might reminisce with old photographs.
Fatigued wood feels good in my hands. That same wood bound to cold steel can excite my eyes with dancing light, flickering in between its aged patina. Even a tool’s shadow-work can create a unique performance all its own. When given the presentation and attention each apparatus deserves it becomes an instrument of progress and a peaceful record of time and place.
Each painting begins with a traditional drawing and a tonal underpainting. With the best materials available I meticulously paint each
tool portrait from acute observations made over many sittings. Like the devices themself, my painting methods are longstanding and true. Each dent, scratch or wear mark that I represent on canvas tells a story of a person’s deliberate skill or passionate misuse.
2017 Morfis | Bretzke Grenning Gallery Sag Harbor, NY
2016 Ackrill | Minoff | Morfis Grenning Gallery Sag Harbor, NY
2015 Ackrill, Minoff, and Morfis Grenning Gallery Sag Harbor, NY
2014 Gems of the Grenning Gallery Grenning Gallery Sag Harbor, NY
2013 44th Annual Juried Members Exhibition New Britain Museum of American Art New Britain, CT
2010 41st Annual Juried Members Exhibition New Britain Museum of American Art New Britain, CT Solo Show: New England Oils MAC650 Gallery Middletown, CT
2009 Courtyard Gallery Mystic, CT
Müth Gallery New Hope, PA
2008 Müth Gallery New Hope, PA
2007 Solo Show Ellen Traut Collection Gallery Hartford, CT
The Chase/Freedman Gallery West Hartford, CT
2006 Petrini Gallery Avon, CT
Holiday Show Ellen Traut Collection Gallery Hartford, CT
2005 Signature Gallery West Hartford, CT
Petrini Gallery Avon, CT
2004 All Four Art New England Carousel Museum Bristol, CT
Signature Gallery West Hartford, CT
2003 47th Juried Regional Exhibition Mystic Art Association Mystic, CT
Signature Gallery West Hartford, CT
PS Gallery Litchfield, CT
2002 Signature Gallery West Hartford, CT
2006 Hartford Courant advertisement insert for Craft Producers, June 14th 2006
2004 The Bristol Press cover story, Jackie Majerus, February 29th 2004
2006 Best in Show/Fine Arts Southington Arts Association, CT
1994-1998 Hartford Art School Merit Scholarship Hartford Art School, CT
2011 Master of Science in Art Education Central Connecticut State University
1998 Bachelor of Fine Arts University of Hartford
Deceits That Delight
Continuing our very long tradition of spotting new artists, the Grenning Gallery is pleased to introduce John Morfis (b.1976). He strikes us as one of the most interesting rising talents. His eye for subject and composition, combined with an excellent classically trained hand, leads us to a fascinating series of single object tromp l’oeil paintings. The spartan compositions hanging together create a clean, chic, contemporary impression. Each painting has a story, and also stands up to close inspection. In fact, Morfis has a very active website where, in keeping with the classical tradition of passing on these invaluable techniques, he instructs the public on his process. Some of his lessons have over 200,000 views!
Morfis grew up in Bayville, Long Island, from a family of talented tradespeople, which explains why the hand tools are so lovingly rendered. There is an almost religious respect for these items, which is understandable, considering that some of them were used by his fore bearers, when they worked at the fine estates on the North Shore of Long Island during the20th century. Morfis’s deft hand and clear eye has rendered these black and grey beauties into the three dimensions. In addition to simple hand tools, sensitively observed, he includes paintings of horse tack and fishing lures.
Morfis has been showing at the Grenning Gallery in Sag Harbor, New York since 2014, and had shows in many galleries since 1998. He has a Bachelor’s degree of fine arts from University of Hartford, where he was a recipient of a Merit Scholarship. While there, Morfis studied oil painting under the highly respected American realist, Stephen Brown, whose work can be seen at Forum Gallery. Morfis received his Masters of Science in Art Education from Connecticut State University in 2011. Notably, Morfis’s work has also been shown at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT. For more biographical details and images go to www.grenninggallery.com, and for more information about his process and stories behind select paintings, go to his website www.helloartsy.com.