John Morra is a leading figure in the world of contemporary American realism. Morra continues the tradition of realist still-life painting with carefully composed and complex formal arrangements of ordinary objects. However, his is a personal vision. Instead of Victorian flowers or desserts served in cut-crystal compotes, Morra offers us "gems" from his extensive personal collection of bottles and gadgets found in tag sales, metal scraps from junkyards, and even mixers and egg-beaters purchased on eBay. In Morra's world, mixers, lemon juicers, glass insulators, oil cans, plumb bobs, turkey basters, and gears from coal furnaces coexist harmoniously with fragile ostrich eggs and glass Christmas ornaments. Inspired by the great masters-particularly Vermeer, Chardin, and Corot-Morra paints from life, painstakingly arranging props and objects in his studio. He relies neither on images taken from such intermediary sources as the Internet, advertising, or the movies, nor upon snapshots or videos. Drawn from real objects, Morra's formal yet innovative compositions force tensions between perspective illusions and flat surfaces, while his superb treatment of color relationships enhances the contrasts between simple and complex surfaces, in all cases with the closest attention given to the effects of light. Morra isolates and transforms everyday objects with almost obsessive precision, resulting in a body of work that, while grounded in the past, is refreshingly dynamic, visually stimulating, and clearly of the 21st century.
John Morra (b.1962) was born in Meridian, Mississippi, and was raised and educated in Southern California. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from WestmontCollege, Santa Barbara, California, in 1985 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1987. Graduate study brought Morra to New York, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the New YorkAcademy of Art in 1991.