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 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.
Here are some install shots of my recent show Trinity at The Saatchi Gallery. This was a really great experience for me, as it was the first time I’ve ever completely covered with tape the entirety of the walls that my work is presented on. As well as that, it’s the Saatchi, which is always a great place to show.
This was also only the second time I’ve exhibited sculpture alongside my tape paintings. One of these was a collaboration with Wilma Vaisanen.
After the show finished, The Saatchi Gallery decided to extend part of my show, so the sold works were sent off to their respective new owners, and the others were rehung on the smaller of my two walls, which they can still be viewed on now.
To see more of the individual works in the show, please go HERE
To see the remaining available works, please go HERE
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.
The first piece is this Matisse-inspired work, the pose for which is taken from Matisse’s Blue Nude. (Below)
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.
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
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.
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 – 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
I’m very excited to have just released my newest linoprint SlowFiasco.
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 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.
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.
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.
I have just realised that I never posted photos of my last solo show Lavish Entropy with Delphian Gallery, so here they are below.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Delphian Gallery team for everything. Andrew Salgado for writing the amazing catalogue text. Old Blue Last Beer for supplying the drinks for the opening party. And everyone else who visited, bought works, or blogged about the show.
Hector Campbell (HC): Delphian Gallery has existed in one manifestation or another since 2013’s ‘Group Collective are Kunsts’ exhibition, could you explain how the gallery first came about? And how it has subsequently evolved into its current model?
Benjamin Murphy (BM): My co-director (photographer Nick JS Thompson) and I have been working together for a number of years after we met when he wrote an article about me in a magazine he used to manage. I went on to write for the magazine, and we both started co-curating one another’s shows. We both developed a deep love of, and interest in, the art of curation, and so decided to curate our first show in my old studio. It has been a real labour of love for us, which has built gradually into what Delphian is now – a peripatetic style gallery that takes the championing of exciting, emerging art as its key aim.
HC: Delphian, meaning ‘Obscurely Prophetic,’ derives from the Greek mythological oracle at Delphi. What was the rationale behind choosing ‘Delphian’, and how does it’s meaning underpin the gallery’s vision?
BM: Well firstly, we wanted something that was Googleable, as well as something less vapid than just both of our surnames. We decided upon Delphian because it is vague enough to not be too constrictive in what we can show, as well as being something with its own character. “Obscurely Prophetic” is, in a concise two-word phrase, one which we believe all the best art accomplishes. We believe that the most successful and thought-provoking work is informative, but in a non-didactic way.
HC: As an artist-run gallery, what advantages or insights does this offer you, as opposed to more traditional gallerist or art dealers?
BM: I think we understand the position of the artist more than a lot of gallerists or curators do, as we are both artists in our own right. This gives us a unique insight into both sides of the coin in terms of how a show is put together and run, from the artwork production point, up until the curation of a show and the sale of an artwork.
As well as this, we try to curate cohesive shows that could be read as a single artwork in their own right. The way we curate is quite experimental, as we believe there is nothing less interesting (or damaging to the artworks themselves), as a show in which all of the artworks are hung at eye-level around the gallery. These types of shows often encourage people to stand in the middle of the room and just rotate themselves 360 degrees, they leave feeling like they have seen all of the artworks – when of course they often haven’t. We want to curate shows that are essentially immersive artworks in themselves, that are ethereal and only exist in the moment, until the heterogeneous works are divided up again and are either sold or sent back to the artists. We believe that curation is an art form in itself, and it is this philosophy which guides how we curate.
BM: We try to show a diverse range of works that are entirely unique, whilst highlighting possible underlying connections or similarities, as well as playing with ways in which differing styles contrast. We spend a lot of time going to shows, as well as countless hours on social media, scrolling through things like Instagram looking for new talent. We also run a separate Instagram account called @Daily_Contemporary_Art, which is great for discovering new artists. Every week a new artist has control of the account and shares their favourite living artists, and we find that it is often the student artists that share the most exciting work.
HC: You also had your most recent solo exhibition, Lavish Entropy, at the gallery earlier this year. How did this experience compare to your previous shows, acting as not only the artist but also the gallerist/curator?
BM: It was great, I often take a quite hands-on approach to the curation of my own shows anyway (often aided by Nick), so in that sense, this was no different. I’d recommend every artist do this at least once in your career, as when you have full creative control over something you can be as wild and as experimental as you like without anyone trying to curtail your vision. Don’t get me wrong – the curatorial teams at galleries are often incredibly helpful and teach me things about my own work that I wouldn’t have realised otherwise, but it can be incredibly freeing having absolutely no constraints sometimes. This kind of thing is great, and you are able to take bigger risks than usual, and this teaches you what does and doesn’t work in a way that you wouldn’t have been able to see without this freedom.
HC: This year the gallery ran your inaugural Open Call submission exhibition, why did you want to undertake this competition? And what did you learn from this first iteration?
BM: It was so great, and through it we discovered so much great art we wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for the open call. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to submit, so as to get the most submissions possible. We didn’t charge for entry, and our good friends at theprintspace printed and mounted it all for us, so there was no cost to the artists. This also meant that, as the artists only had to send us a jpeg, artists from all over the world could submit and not have to worry about shipping or insuring their work. We received over 8000 submissions in total and were awestruck by the diversity of it. There are many artists who we would have loved to have included but couldn’t because of size and space constraints. As well as Florence Hutchings, another of our favourite artists Bertrand Fournier entered, whom we hope to present a solo show with next year.
HC: For your latest exhibition, Florence Hutchings, who won the aforementioned Open Call competition, presents her debut solo show, Seating Arrangements. How important is it for you to champion young artists such as Florence?
Florence Hutchings – Secular Throne
BM: Florence is great, she has done so incredibly well at such a young age and yet still doesn’t really seem phased by it all. She is very down-to-earth, which is nice to see from someone who is already reaching levels of success that most artists can only dream of.
We aim to discover and support young, emerging artists because we feel this is where the most exciting and unique work is coming from. We are in a position to be able to help out the careers of these young artists like people did for us when we first started showing, so it is incredibly rewarding in that respect.
We get to nurture this often raw and unbridled talent early on in an artist’s career, and look forward to the time when artists like Florence outgrow us and sign with Gagosian – for it will happen, especially in her case.
To see the whole thing on Arrested Motion, click this LINK.
My second exhibition of the year at The Saatchi Gallery was the Cash Is King show, in which all of the artists drew on to existing currency. the show finished at the end of September, and I will be back there for another show in early December.
My last show was as part of Jealous Needs You, which was the one directly before this one.