The presence of the human head is a symbol for humanity. More than a mere image, it becomes a plea on behalf of ordinary, unsung people, a small cry of optimism in a time of great uncertainty, worldwide.
As a result of repeated painting and repainting, these faces become a sort of average human face. Individual likenesses and personalities merge into one another and although no single, recognisable face emerges, the viewer is free to superimpose a chosen one onto the picture. A barely-detected presence from underneath the final image is testament to the barely-detected beings that they represent.
The work in this exhibition has its roots in a holiday that John Philip Murray took with his family in Tunisia in 1995. As well as the ruins of Carthage and other Roman remains, seeing the Sousse Mosaic profoundly affected Murray's painting practice. Apparently the Sousse Mosaic is the only extant image of the poet Virgil. He is shown, seated, identifiable by the scroll on his knee with a line from his epic "The Aeneid" and flanked by his muses, Clio, the Muse of history and Melpomene, the muse of tragedy. This mosaic is remarkable for the fact that a crucial section around Virgil's nose is missing. He is thus rendered anonymous.
John Philip's work has evolved from this idea of anonymity and he has extended it to include humanity en masse . It has become a vehicle for expression of particular ideas or settings that affect ordinary people. Given the situation of so-called "global politics", "new-world-order" and "the-war-on-terrorism" that now exists, many people worldwide feel that they are rendered voiceless. Art may not change the world, but a look at ourselves may be some small step to so doing.
View Anthem ("There is a crack in everything, - that's where the light gets in….")
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