John Philip Murray




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Quartet for M

Oil on cotton 76x61cm. 2007

The starting point in this picture is Messiaen's dramatic piece: 'Quartet for the End of Time'. This was composed while Messiaen was detained as a prisoner of war. The piece was first performed in the 'stalag' by the composer and three other inmates. Messiaen apparently, wrote the piece with them and their instrumentation in mind, knowing that they had their instruments with them in the camp and that they were proficient. While the music is stark in the extreme, it is not without hope. Technically it is very difficult, particularly as he wanted the 'time' in his music to be different to the kind of pulse that to him was synonymous with military music. My painting is divided in two, the upper half blue and the lower brown. Four profiles face the centre where a circle (Eternity) surrounds two intertwined shapes, (tilda/waveforms - symbols of infinity). The regularity of the layout contrasts with the composer's 'free' time.