fine art

Congratulations to Olivia Colman

I am incredibly pleased that Olivia Colman won best actress at the Oscars a while ago. The Favourite is a great film, and Olivia is seriously the loveliest, and most down-to-earth person I’ve ever met.

In 2017 she commissioned this portrait of her and her husband Ed, and they were both such a pleasure to draw. I went to their house a few times, and took photos of them, as well as objects and patterns from throughout their house that had some sentimental value to them. I then combined all of these elements into the artwork below.

Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman Commission

 

If you haven’t seen Olivia’s acceptance speech you should definitely watch it, as it proves how truly lovely she is in real life.

For more portrait commissions, check out this Portrait of Ingrid, or this Portrait of Novelist Nick Harkaway

Printing Process Video

I am very happy to announce that my newest print Envy For The Living sold out in just 24 hours! It sold out so fast that I didn’t have a chance to blog this printing process video, which was expertly made by Nick JS Thompson.

I’d like to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who bought one, and I’m sorry to anyone who missed out. My next print release won’t be for a while, but if you’d like to be the first to hear of any new releases, please sign up to my mailing list at the top right of this page.

I spent days drawing and carving the image into a sheet of birch, and weeks carving out the negative space. I am very grateful for the print studio at the university where I lecture (University of the Arts London) allowing me to use this incredible Columbian press from the early 1900s.

To see the finished print, please click this link

Envy For The Living – NEW PRINT RELEASE (now sold out)

It has been four years since I released my last woodcut, which proved to be my most popular print to date. I’m very excited to announce that my newest woodcut ENVY FOR THE LIVING is available NOW!

ENVY FOR THE LIVING is a woodcut, which has been hand drawn, cut, and printed by myself, using a Columbian printing press from the early 1900s.

It is printed on the highest quality Norfolk 210gsm Cartridge paper, using archival oil-based printmaking inks.
In a limited edition of only 15

envy for the living

Within the print, I have included background references to Henri Matisse, Vanitas Painting, Ancient Greek sculpture, Piet Mondrian, and Bas Jan Ader. As usual, the title is taken from a work of classic literature, this time from Lev Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

 

To purchase please [CLICK HERE]

I was also recently included in Stylist Magazine’s list of hot new art prints, with my linoprint from 2018 Hamartia (Sold Out).

envy for the living

Hamartia – Stylist Magazine 2019

Faded Glory – Two Person Show in San Francisco

Faded Glory – With Nick JS Thompson

Faded Glory - Benjamin Murphy & Nick JS Thompson

Faded Glory install shots

My most recent show was a two-person show with my friend and long-time collaborator Nick JS Thompson. For FADED GLORY, we decided to approach the show with a strong curatorial vision, hanging the heterogenous works experimentally, so as to combine Nick’s photography with my paintings. The show opened at Book & Job gallery in San Francisco on the 7th of February in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco.

We made the decision early on to both work in black and white and only on paper. We also decided to focus on interiors, with a strong pattern-based approach – many of the work featured plants and fabric patterns, but with no figures.

As well as this, we decided not to frame any of the works, and to affix them directly to the walls of the gallery, so that there would be as few constraints as possible in terms of combining works, and allowing them to disrupt one another. We wanted the effect to be one that is somewhat jarring, as if the works fit together, but only by altering each other quite aggressively. We made the works with the other in mind, but we didn’t make them together, and we didn’t plan how they wee going to interact when we were making them.

Faded Glory - Benjamin Murphy & Nick JS Thompson

Faded Glory install shots

Face Value 3

Overall, I very much enjoyed the process of allowing my works to be so drastically altered, but perhaps only because I trusted the person doing the alterations. I am taking part in another show in April entitled Face Value 3, which is curated by Mizog Art’s founder Gary Mansfield. (I was recently interviewed on the Mizog Art podcast, which you can listen to HERE). In this show, which is in aid of the Katie Piper Foundation, I will be donating a work which will be altered by another artist, as well as altering a piece by Jessica Albarn. This show opens on the 18th of April at Jealous Gallery.

 

For more photos of exhibitions I’ve had recently, check out my show Trinity at The Saatchi Gallery, which is still up.

Mizog Art Podcast

I was very happy to have been invited by Gary Mansfield to guest on the Mizog Art podcast. My episode has just been released, so have a listen if you want to hear me waffle on about art for an hour.

Mizog art podcast

Mizog Art

During our conversation, we discuss such themes as:

Delphian Gallery, and why myself and Nick JS Thompson decided to start a gallery; My shows at The Saatchi Gallery, Mine and Nick’s show at Book & Job Gallery in California, the Stamford Prison Experiment, Marina Abramovic, Jeremy Deller, and lots of other art and non-art related things.

If you’d like to check it out, you can do so

[HERE]

Please SHARE it like crazy, and let me know what you think.

xx

Highlights and Thanks for 2018

2018 was a massive year for me, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been involved in some amazing projects, so I thought I’d compile a little list of highlights and thanks. It was a VERY busy year, and as such there is a lot to cover; inevitably I am going to miss some stuff accidentally, and if I do miss you our I’m sorry, I’ll update the list as and when. That’s also the reason I am so late to the party in posting this.

 

  • One of the biggest highlights of the year was my solo show Lavish Entropy with Delphian Gallery in the summer, which was a lot of fun being able to host my own show at my gallery – possibly the biggest thanks of all to my business partner Nick JS Thompson.
Highlights - lavish-entropy-benjamin-murphy7W

Lavish Entropy at Delphian Gallery

  • I have been hired as an associate lecturer at University of the Arts London, which I’m super happy about. I have a deep love of learning (I wish I did whilst I was actually at uni though), and I love being in such a buzzing hub of creativity – thanks to my new boss Charley Peters for this.
  • I have exhibited at The Saatchi Gallery three times this year, the latter of the three shows being one in which I had a lot of wall space to myself to do what I like with, and so felt like a mini solo show. Thanks to all at the Saatchi for this.

 

  • At my solo show, I also released my first play Flowering Desolation, which is written entirely using single sentences harvested from over 80 sources of classic literature. It is available to download for free HERE. Thanks to Kenton Thomas for all your help with formatting it, and being the first to read it and give me feedback.
  • For my solo show catalogue I asked one of my all time favourite artists Andrew Salgado to write a little something. I was blown away by the response, which was a 1000 word essay, and summed me up better than I ever could have done myself.
  • The gallery I co-own Delphian Gallery has really taken off, and I’m super happy to have been included in such a great project. We launched a little over a year ago, and am already exhibiting some of my favourite contemporary artists. These include solo shows with Jordy Kerwick, Florence Hutchings, and Carson Lancaster – HUGE thanks to them.
  • Also a big thanks to Stuart Waplington and all at theprintspace for allowing us to do some shows in their space, and helping out with everything.
  • The Delphian Open Call was incredible, receiving over 8,000 submissions which was CRAZY. The overall winner was Florence Hutchings, and the other winners included Igor Moritz, Geoffrey Bohm, Jonathan Edelhuber, Bertrand Fournier, Ellie Geary, Philip Gerald, Rosie Gilligan, Klaus Is Coming, and loads more – thank you all.

 

 

I have a really exciting 2019 planned, which involves.

  • Writing my first book (!)
  • At Delphian Gallery we are hosting a two person show with Kevin Perkins and Igor Moritz, and the debut UK solo show of Bertrand Fournier. As well as these, we’re launching our second annual Open Call.
  • A two-person show with myself and Nick JS Thompson at Book & Job gallery in San Fransisco.
  • I also plan to make more sculpture and some more oil paintings in 2019, and start showing them.

December Saatchi Gallery Exhibition

This December I have another exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery, which will be my fourth there overall, and my third this year.

For this show, I am taking over two walls in their Prints & Editions gallery and taping all over the walls before hanging artworks on top. I will also present some of my ceramic sculptures there for the first time.

Below are some of the works I have created for the show. 

saatchi gallery Oona(AfterMatisse)

Oona(AfterMatisse)

 

The first piece is this Matisse-inspired work, the pose for which is taken from Matisse’s Blue Nude. (Below)

saatchi Blue Nude - Matisse

Blue Nude – Matisse

This is the first time I’ve had a model recreate a pose from an existing artwork, which made the whole thing loads easier to draw. I definitely plan on doing more of these portraits inspired by the greats, so if you have any suggestions please let me know.

 

As well as this piece, another new work for the show is this three-layered tape drawing below. I don’t have a title for this one yet, so let me know if you have any ideas for what I should call it.

saatchi gallery still life

Untitled Still Life

 

This still life is a three-layered work, so the foreground flowers were done on one layer of glass, the vase and mid-level flowers on another, and the background on a third. Once I’ve done the tape drawing on the glass I encase the whole thing in a clear resin (just to preserve the tape), and paint white anything within the boundaries of what I want to be opaque, so you can’t see the middle layer through the flowers on the first layer etc. 

The little bust you can see is a portrait of Leo Tolstoy, just because he is great.

For more of my works at the Saatchi Gallery, go HERE

And to see how I plan to tape up the walls, go HERE

And for the Saatchi Gallery’s official website, go HERE

Chris Burden – Measured

In their latest show, Gagosian gallery is isolating two works from the Chris Burden retrospective at New Museum in New York in 2013, and presenting them together in their Brittania Street gallery. Entitled Measured, the show speaks of symmetry, bringing together two works that exist via the equality of weight between two opposing objects. In Porsche With Meteorite, a genuine nickel-iron meteorite counterbalances a restored Porsche 914.

Chris Burden - Measured

Porsche With Meteorite

This work is one which suggests immense, and yet dormant, power. The power of the sports-car is curtailed and it is left sitting idly, as if weightless, whilst the meteorite sits cold upon the opposing end of the fulcrums arm. These two objects have had past lives that were incredibly high-octane, for Burden’s restoration of a vintage car rather than the selection of a showroom floor model is not merely serendipitous. These objects have been imbued with an immense power, which through his transfiguration, have become impotent in their stillness. They seem to have lost their virility, and sit immobile, suspended in time.

The meteorite is only twenty percent of the weight of the car, and for this reason the beam that supports both is much longer on the meteorites end. It is a purpose-built structure that towers overhead, telescopic – although the lack of registration-marks on the uniform oxidisation suggests that this functionality is only for show; it has potential, but this potential will never be actualised. The vehicles have been painstakingly restored to their former perfection, whilst the oxidised steel components, display an artificial history that in the vehicles js genuine, but obscured.

The viewer is at once struck with the delicacy of the work, and yet feels insecure in the potential for danger. In many ways both works in Measured are redolent of his 1996 work The Flying Steamroller, in which a twelve-tonne steamroller is attached to a pivoted arm, counterbalanced on the opposite side. In the middle of the arm, there is a rotating fulcrum that allows the steamroller to lift off the ground and float in the air once it has reached a high enough velocity for the counterweight to elevate it. In this work the potential for unmitigated disaster is very real, and it is impossible to not be struck by the delicacy with which this immensely dangerous event is taking place. The steamroller glides serenely through the air like a bird.

Chris Burden - Measured

Chris Burden – One Ton Crane Truck

The other work in the show, One-Ton Crane Truck is a refurbished Ford truck counterbalanced with a purpose-built single tonne cube, which contrasts with and exemplifies the exotic nature of the meteorite. In this work, the vehicle is a rudimentary machine used for laborious work, which is diametrically opposed to the extravagent sports-car in the other room. This juxtaposition of the functional and familiar robustness of the crane truck and cube, with the exotic sports car and meteorite, seems to highlight the intrinsic qualities of each by playing them off against one another. The sports car appears all the more luxurious and fast, whilst the truck speaks of rigidity and strength. This piece is slightly less successful than its counterpart however, and as was suggested to me by a friend, a bit ‘cartoony’. The one-tonne weight is a rather arbritrary measurement, as the trucks front wheels are planted firmly on the ground. Were they to be lifted ever-so-slightly off the floor, the work would have been immeasurably powerful, but alas, that is not the case. Having the counterweight a purpose-built cube, as opposed to a magical, extra-terrestrial chunk of metal, diminishes this work somewhat. It does however, suggest that this work means something different to its opposite, in that here the work suggests industry and industrialization, grounded in the real, laborious world. The other has a magical, almost fairytale quality, and is suggestive of some kind of freedom (or its lack thereof). It is not that either work critiques or diminishes the other, rather that they both speak of similar ideas, in opposing ways.

Burden’s early work was chaotic and reckless, but never haphazard. There was a raw energy and freedom to his performance works that now, because of his untimely death, will never be seen again. This show has a somber quietness  to it, that when viewed after the artist’s premature death, screams of lost potential. The cars potential as a conduit to immense power and freedom is left suspended, and isolated from the very ground that gives it its meaning. In this however, it is imbued it with a newer, more abstract power. The meteorite appears as if lassoed out of the sky, hung upon a metal gallows and displayed in all its impotence, energy lost irretrievably.

In Burden’s earlier work, he put himself at great physical danger and exposed himself to actual bodily harm for his works. Towards the end of his career, he made works that placed the viewer in arenas of potential danger, with The Big Wheel and Steamroller, where there always seemed that chaos was ready to break free. In these works presented in Measured, the chaos and energy that could ensue has long passed, and now lays dormant within these objects, perfectly suspended to reflect that an equilibrium has been reached between chaos and calm. The gallery has a stillness that heightens the balance of the two works, both individually with the literal balance between objects, but also the way in which both works discourse with each other.

As Mark Rothko once said, “complete equilibrium is death”, and within these works, it is the perfect symmetry of both that each nullifies the power of its opposite. All ordered systems strive towards chaos, and these equal and opposing forces arrest this eagerness for disorder, creating a stunted equilibrium redolent of serenity. It is a stale serenity however, as each work calls to mind a lost potential, which when read in the post-Burden landscape, echoes of loss.

Words: Benjamin Murphy 

Chris Burden, ‘Measured’, runs through 26/01/19, Gagosian, 6-24 Brittanian Street

 

For more articles, look HERE, or HERE

And to see the article on After Nyne, look HERE

Slow Fiasco – New print *Update – now SOLD OUT*

I’m very excited to have just released my newest linoprint Slow Fiasco.

It’s an A3 hand drawn, cut, and printed linoprint on the highest-quality Fabriano Rosaspina Bianco paper. This is a test print for a new technique of printing multiple layers onto the same paper. This is the first time I have done this technique.

Slow Fiasco

Slow Fiasco Linoprint

The lace veil, as well as the plants in the vase, and the plants coming in from the right, are all a separate layer of lino that is printed on top of the first layer.

It’s a run of only 15 prints so I’m expecting them to go fast.

Slow Fiasco

Slow Fiasco Detail

To purchase, please follow THIS LINK

 

Also, today is Sylvia Plath’s birthday, so here is an old print I did in homage to her a few years ago.

Hanging Experiments

I have recently been playing around with new ways to hang works, by mixing up how I play around with the tape in the frame and the tape on the wall. Below is my most recent of the hanging experiments, in which I have draw a flat pattern onto a wall as if it is wallpaper, and then hung the framed works on top of it.

hanging experiments

Semi-Skimmed Gallery (September 2018)

Other hanging experiments can be seen in these posts from my solo show at Beers Contemporary in January 2016, and this other drawing I did on the walls of the Tate Modern in December of 2016.

Before I have either continued the drawings onto the walls, beyond the confines of their frames, or made original drawings onto the walls themselves. I am experimenting now with paring this all back, and taping only flat patterns on which to hang the works.

hanging experiments

Delphian Gallery (July 2018)

I think this is a much more successful way of displaying the works than the ways I have done it in the past, and I look forward to playing around with it more in my upcoming shows.

Below are two of the works hung over the pattern in the first photo (both now sold).

hanging experiment

Ink on paper, in hand-carved solid birch frame

hanging experiment

electrical tape on single microscope slide

Benjamin Murphy