William Packer

In 1995 William Packer, arguably our most respected art critic, had this to say about Morgan’s work:
“…as a painter, he is nothing if not brave. To take on first the portrait on the grand scale, and then the full-blown conversation piece is to set oneself not merely against the standards of one’s contemporaries, but against the masters in the great tradition. If to do so is then inevitably to invite particular criticism, both fair and unfair, it is also to command respect.
Now he is showing what he can do with the narrative and the subject painting, and again he confronts the issue head on and on a scale ambitious enough to invite a fall. It is hardly necessary to say that he stays well on his feet.
At Agnew’s in 1996, amidst the swirls and extravagances that characterize much of his larger canvases, a magnificent and relatively modest (for Morgan) history painting entitled ‘Prisoner Bonhoeffer, Follow Me’ emerged triumphant. The spartan manner in which this canvas is executed and the moment selected to reveal one of the last war’s greatest outrages, shown as a bureaucratic resolution, in contrast with the extravagance and splendour of the surrounding canvases, is astonishing. It provides us with a partial key to Morgan’s greatness. His ability to express such profound inhumanity with such economy, alone ensures that Howard J. Morgan will be acknowledged as one of the masters of the 20th century.”

Richard Ormond

Review by Richard Ormond from the ‘Oh What a Day’ exhibition 2003
“Morgan’s work is full of such references to the art of the past. He is fascinated by the work of Velazquez, Hals, Vermeer, Tiepolo and more modern masters like Sargent with whose bravura style his own has been compared – overly much so. What his studies have given him is inability to orchestrate figure compositions on a large scale and the executive skills to carry them through with flare and expedition. Take the pub scene,The Red Stiletto, the man in white is place at the apex of an inverted triangle that draws us deep into the space and determines the position of the other main protagonists. A line of ashtrays, beer mat and glass mark out the dominant diagonal. At the same time there is a pronounced tilt to the bar, and the composition appears to slide away to the right. This spatial dislocation is accentuated in the wings of the triptych where greater liberties are taking with the normal rules of perspective. In the torrid atmosphere of the pub nothing is quite what it seems to be; Lights flicker, forms dissolve, the world starts to swim before our eyes. This is what Morgan is good at, spiking his compositions with subversive effects that unnerve us and put us on edge. The sensuality is there alright, the pleasure in bodies, the rich textures of paint and colour, but it is crossed by darker strains of danger and anxiety. “
Review by William Packer, Artist & Art critic for the Financial Times, 2006