Settings is the 3rd solo show of Magni Moss at Last Resort. The exhibition is comprised of a new body of work titled Settings. The paintings in this series come into being through a meeting point, between a shaped canvas and a rectangular one, in which one painting is inlayed inside the other, acting as both pairing and framing device. 

Settings presents us with systems of representation, to ask how we see the world and through what frames we tell stories. This play on two dimensional depiction is seen within the work setting no. 1. Painted in monochromatic sepia toned ink, the gradations in the painting are created through the soaked stain of the dispersed material. 

A playful line drawing depicts an elongated and exaggerated figure, bent to form an arching frame, its eyes and nose depart from the face, floating into the center of the picture. The body and the outline of the head are in rigid profile, empha sizing depth and flatness. This spacial representation is pulled further outwards as we look to the floor and ceiling, sandwiching the image and preparing us for the two dynamic frames surrounding the canvas.  Frames on top of frames, this body of work addresses a distance from the act of painting itself, where shaped canvasses cuddle the edges of the picture plane. The free and pictorial imagery produced on and imbedded inside of the silk canvas is guarded within the shaped painting surrounding and extending its surface through a new relationship.

Present within the show is an open question around the architecture that surrounds us which supports legibility and hosts narrative in paintings. Setting no. 2 uniquely positions itself in a landscape format. This shift transforms the directionality and way we read the painting. What in another direction could have looked like an informative display, has become a fragment of an interior wall, its window looking out onto a dark evening. The surrounding shape painting has a patinated surface. Mimicking a frescoed wall touched by time, resembling an old interior of a barn where layers of dust and smoke move across the surface.

These works, I would like to mention are created in a space very close to nature. Over the last years, Magni Moss has moved away from urban centers, relocating his studio and life to rural locations. This proximity to the natural world presents itself in the clarity of elements which comprise these paintings. The density of the color are never quite fully saturated due to the transparency of the silk fabric. This allows for a sedimentary quality of the materials to come forward.  Setting no. 4, with its grey surrounding shaped canvas and interior yellow landscape, this work appears to depict some leaves and trees with their root systems bracing out at the bottom of the image. Their upper canopies mirroring one another almost to create a reflection of a human form. The paintings which are made through a layering process of ink and paint are markers of a life and a way of seeing the world, the paintings themselves an impression of a time experienced.

The most exuberant work in the exhibition (Setting no. 3) emphasizes the chance operations at play in combining these layered works. A pink ground and a more saturated pink spotted surface surrounds a deeply translucent orange painting. Its erratic and continuous line drawing appears to depict a bird in flight, moving rapidly through a windy picture plane. The playful combination of the bright orange rectangular painting and its polka-dot pattern rectangular doughnut shaped host, highlights the more exuberant variations that are possible within this working system.  Furthermore this work’s flamboyant color combination draws our attention to systems of affect and pleasure through this narrative sentence making. This opens a window to a more generous reading of the exhibitions more somber toned works.  And while the other works in the exhibition do have a more earthy color palette, this work allows us to see a fuller spectrum within the possibilities of collage. 

The dark wood frames surrounding each of the paintings have been plained from an oak wood,  thousands of years old, sourced from within a nearby marsh, directly connecting the frames of the paintings to the natural world.

This brings our attention to the sculpture in the center of the space. A tall plank of the same dark oak which surrounds the paintings, on its plight like top is a smooth sphere. This reduced figure looks not in one direction but in all directions and from its privileged position, it faces each work in full view. This austere wooden figure acts as a stand in for a viewer, and makes evident that these paintings function inside of a logic that is not dependent on context but on the reading of the forms inside the works and the narrative of reading them together. We see this relationship between the way that the paintings host their own space of meaning and reading, which is reflected in how the sculpture creates a spatialized force that addresses, in a human scale, a space in-between that links them all.

Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, Paris, March 2020