John Philip Murray




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About my work


Drawings & Print

A Song for Silent People
John Philip Murray

5th June - 19th June 2004.

The works in this exhibition are a further development of my "images for voiceless people". The process started from an encounter with the remains of Roman mosaics in Tunisia. My fascination was particularly centred on the image of the poet Virgil, in the "Sousse Mosaic". The missing features, a product of the ravages of time, render him unrecognisable as a likeness today. Only because he is surrounded by various props, his muses, a scroll bearing a line from his epic, The Aeneid, and so on, can we be sure that it is indeed him. But where are the testaments to the millions who have lived and died since Virgil?

Nameless, anonymous portraits with blurred-out features became my vehicle. These works have grown into veiled comment on society today.

Human nature, with all its failings, persists. The technology improves, but the humans using it remain the same.

Our civilisation is a delicate flower, apt to be set aside for reasons of political conquest.

In an unholy rush, people, just concerned with day-to-day living, may find themselves isolated and unrepresented.

My paintings are primarily concerned with the human head. Because our primary means to communication are centred around it, we are particularly drawn to images of the head. We relate to it in a special way because in it, we recognise the archetype, ourselves.

These paintings set the head against a formalised structure resembling the grid of a mosaic. If this is not present overtly, it is implied as a means of establishing order in the picture.

As well as using the structure of mosaics, as a compositional device, I also make use of their low-keyed colours. The browns, greens, reds, blues and ochres have a resonance that I enjoy in a formal sense.

While having a very serious starting point, I do not wish to lose the sense that these are, above all, pictures to be looked at and enjoyed. The underlying feel for humanity is an attempt at joyousness, not a polemic rant against overpowering forces.

The song for the oppressed is a song of joy, of optimism, of a future.

Copyright John Philip Murray All rights reserved

Set in Light #2, Oil on cotton, 61 x 41cm, 2004
Fragment, Oil on Linen and Board, 10x8cm, 2004
Remnant, Oil on Linen and Board, 10x8cm, 2004
Unknown, Oil on Linen and Board, 10x10cm, 2004
Worn,Oil on Linen and Board, 15x15cm, 2004