|"Chomp" oil on panel 30" x 38" 2011|
|"Hoover Dam Fool" oil on panel 24" x 36" 2011|
|"What Do You Think Dustin and Josh Are up to These Days?" oil on panel 16" x 22.5" 2011|
|"Self-Portrait as a Thug, Age Three" oil on panel 30" x 23" 2010|
|"Future Vegetarian" oil on panel 26" x 26" 2011|
Christopher Murphy's work was included in the 103rd issue of New American Paintings recently. I have never posted his work before (see my previous post) for the simple reason that I hadn't seen it before. So Thanks again NAP! His work plays off of old photographs tweaking elements in often subtle, but decidedly humorous ways. It's all a riff on memory and fiction, reminding us that the thing we think of as our selves are really just stories. Memory and story-telling are interdependent phenomena and where they meet is the beating heart of narrative art, whether it's painting, writing, music or theater. Narrative painting however is clearly a different kettle of fish from other forms of narrative which are time based and can have beginnings, middles and ends. A single image must vie for the viewers attention in different ways. In time-based story-telling, the artist provides a story, and the audience soaks it up applying an imaginary veneer of realism within their own minds. A painter like Murphy can supply the realism but must entice the viewer to flesh out the story. It's not so hard to do. People turn almost everything into stories all the time without even thinking about it. They just don't realize they're doing it. Narrative images like these act as prompts facilitating what is essentially instinctive behavior. The juxtaposition of unlikely elements, the contrasts and surprises amidst the mundane and familiar are the catalysts, sending us off on inevitable reveries about what happens next or what came before. Christopher Murphy's particular penchant within this genre is to imply sly anecdotal jokes about about what we think of as American, subtly subverting stereotypes and prompting us to reevaluate the various roles people play within that cultural context.
You can see more of his work at his Lora Schlesinger Gallery
And congratulations to Mr. Murphy not only on being included in New American Paintings but also for winning the Reader's Choice Award on their blog.