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Benjamin Murphy’s Lavish Entropy Catalogue essay by Andrew Salgado

Tonight is our private view at 67 York Street, Marylebone! Lavish Entropy is a solo exhibition by Benjamin Murphy, an internationally exhibited artist who is most well-known for creating darkly alluring monochromatic, figurative, line-drawings using the esoteric medium of electrical tape.

We are delighted to publish here our catalogue essay written by Andrew Salgado:

Benjamin Murphy is a Romantic – he strolls in wearing all black, of slight stature, looking appropriately broody with skeleton rings on each finger that he’s made himself and decked out in stylized tattoos – most of which he’s designed (and also probably executed upon) himself. He’s the embodiment of his own work; where art- meets-life-meets-art; probably a Kafka novel somewhere in his bag and a journal full of sketches and notes. He’s a bit like I imagine the old Romantic poets, literal manifestations of the very subjects of their poetry – the artist, in beautiful torment, unable to function properly as the very obsess to create somehow overwhelms them. A quick Google search reveals the tenets of Romanticism – the tenets I have long forgotten from my own time in art school – and they reveal themselves like a checklist of Murphy’s work: belief in the individual; reverence of nature; interest in the supernatural or gothic; interest in the past; nostalgic world-view. All of these, I would argue, form the foundations of Murphy’s work.

Over the course of the past few years, Murphy’s artistic practice (well, truthfully it has become something of an oeuvre, hasn’t it?) has grown to encompass his trademark ‘black-electrical-tape’ drawings; traditional pen-and-ink drawing; stitching (by hand, laborious and pain-staking); painting; prose; poetry; and even playwriting. I’m sure he also must play a musical instrument or two, and probably has a number of other tricks up his sleeve, like the ‘ five finger knife game’ (aka stabscotch) and must be brewing a bathtub full of gin somewhere. But the point is, this is a multifaceted talent who choses to focus his art on an aesthetic and ethos that is so well-rounded and thought-out that many artists working a lifetime would be jealous of. While his work has grown in terms of technique – which was already rather exceptional a few years back – what one sees now is an artist fully realizing his creative potential. There is never a summit for him, and I often talk to Murphy (well, Ben, to me when we aren’t being professional) and while I’m watching Come Dine with Me after a day in studio, he’s already done 8 hours of tape-drawings and has since been underlining prose in Baudelaire or Camus. What this obsession with work has created is now visually represented in these impeccably and profoundly executed tape-drawings: it is most evident in the triple-tier glass works, where ghostly shadows from layers of intricately detailed surfaces bounce and react 

upon each other. One work, Ghost (2018), depicts an undressing female before a slew of Modernist paintings – and lace curtains draping before a patterned floor, another pattern here, the fronds of a Monstera plant in the back. If you consider the actual work and intensity of mark-making, it’s astounding. When we remind ourselves that this work is executed in tape, not pen-and-ink, it is simply a gobsmacking display of talent. But again, I reiterate the idea that this sort of exhibition comes after years of practice – of obsessive focus on one thing, and the elaboration of a technique he has basically trademarked as his own.

Like many works in the exhibition, the aforementioned piece is characteristic of a Murphy work but also characteristic of the tenets of Romanticism: firstly, imagine Murphy at work, and thus we have the solitary pursuit of an artist, working to depict the solitary moment of a character, usually in a decadently overgrown Victorian setting, usually depicted as a memento-mori or vanitas, viewed upon in her private moments with a type of gentle reverie. There’s a subtle nod to Degas, with the undressing solitary beauties; but also Matisse, when he’s looking at interiors or plants or even patterns; and even a slight nod to punk-rock, Shakespeare, or even Tarantino: knifes, feathers, needles, that sort of thing. But what I love about Murphy’s work is its inherent sweetness; given its unflinching 

monochromatism and his love of Nihilist literature, I think the easy route would be to slip into cynicism. But there’s such an adoration of his own craft and the sensuous care of his own materiality that the work carries with it an inherent delicacy, a kind of grace wound into its very make-up, like a type of macabre but beautiful poetry in itself.

I look forward to the day we can sit in a theatre, watching Murphy’s debut play upon stage, with the set-design that he’s created, all scored to music he wrote. It will be an atmospheric, theatrically sombre event, dimly lit, set to candlelight. A bit of a Cabinet of Doctor Caligari vibe, I’m sure. So while the lights are on, spend some time with these works, consider the patience and care it would take to execute even just a small one. With those thin carefully delineated lines marking each individual strand of hair, or the articulated stigma of a flower, or the undulations of lace. Just as the Romantic and himself lost in their own rapturous creation, these are marks that describe countless hours of obsession, and as this young career continues to evolve, one can only imagine how its varying facets will continue to intermingle into a further fully-realised beast. 

By Andrew Salgado, 2018


Benjamin Murphy opens 5th solo exhibition, Lavish Entropy with Delphian Gallery.

SAVE THE DATE!

The private view for our next show Lavish Entropy by Benjamin Murphy will open on the 10th of July.

Murphy is an internationally exhibited artist who is most well-known for creating darkly alluring monochromatic, figurative, line-drawings using the esoteric medium of electrical tape. His process involves cutting the black tape and affixing it upon glass, to create detailed and elaborate portraits.

Much of the work is made in Murphy’s signature style, that of painting using only black electrical tape on glass. For the past year, Murphy has been working on some new 3D tape paintings, by creating the images on three separate panes of glass, and housing them all within one frame, with a gap in between each. When the viewer moves around the works, a parallax shift effect gives the works depth.  This show will bring together the diverse parts of his practice, including some of his hand-stitched paper drawings alongside his more typical tape paintings. Benjamin has also been experimenting with ceramics, and the disordered naivety of these contrasts perfectly with the meticulous preciseness of his other works.

detail image from riot a tape art piece by Benjamin Murphy from the lavish entropy exhibition at delphian gallery.

Detail from ‘Riot’ by Benjamin Murphy

The work is inspired by the classic literature Murphy read as research for his first play Flowering Desolation, completed in early 2018. French Naturalism and Literary Modernism are major influences, with the works of Marcel Proust playing an especially important part. The exhibition opens on what would have been Proust’s 147th birthday.

As well as his other works, Lavish Entropy will include a single page from Flowering Desolation, which has never been seen by the public.

Quickly following the close of Lavish Entropy, Murphy will be exhibiting at The Saatchi Gallery for a second time, showing a screenprint of one of the key pieces in Lavish Entropy.

For sales requests please contact us.

Exhibition Details

Private view – 10 July 18:30 – 22:00

Exhibition runs – 11 – 15 July


Open Call 2018 – Exhibition

Last month we held our inaugural open call competition and the response was incredible! We received 8000 submissions from all over the world and the standard of the work was unbelievably high. It was an extremely hard job for ourselves and the panel of judges to select the winners for the Open Call print exhibition but eventually we managed to choose our favourite 40 who made it into the exhibition. 

Congratulations to all the winners who were:

Alisa Aistova, Aleksandar Bezinovic, Geoffrey, Bohm, Giulia Cacciuttolo, Susana Cereja, Lauren Collier, Mark Connolly, Nicola Davidson Reed, Jonathan Edelhuber, Eva Eichinger, Ueslei Fagundes, Faiza Faiq, Bertrand Fournier, Ellie Geary, Philip Gerald, Rosie Gilligan, Nah *, Tymo Grijpma, Mia-Jane Harris, Florence Hutchings, Lindsay Kennedy, Showna Kim, Melissa Kime, Klaus Is Koming, Michal Kruger, Fernanda, Azou Lima, Roland Maas, James Mason, Chris Moore, Igor Moritz, Cătălin Munteanu, Lara Orawski, Zacharie Potvin Williams, Nichola Rodgers, Sarah Shaw, Maxie Tröltzsch, Ellen Von Wiegand, Maria Vyrra & Alexis Whitaker. 

You can see some pictures of the private view here. Thank you all for coming!

We are also very excited to announce the first prize winner of the open call who wins a solo exhibition with us later this year. We chose the fantastic Florence Hutchings! We are so excited to be working with her towards her exhibition and can’t wait to show her work very soon!

 Florence Hutchings – Two Vases on a Shelf

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who entered, our 3 guest judges, Carne Griffiths, Diana Chire and Dougie Wallace for all their help, theprintspace and Old Blue Last Beer.

A selection of very limited edition prints are available to purchase of selected pieces from the exhibition.

LIMITED EDITION PRINTS


OPEN CALL 2018

Looking to exhibit your work in London this year? Well, the Delphian Open Call could be perfectly suited for you! 

We are holding an open call competition, searching for the most exciting, undiscovered artwork of 2018. It’s totally free to enter and if selected you could have your work included in our Spring print exhibition at our Shoreditch gallery space!

Not only that, but the first prize winner will win a fully funded solo exhibition with Delphian Gallery in London in 2018! 

What

  • The Delphian Gallery Open Call is an International competition for all printable forms of artwork. It aims to give a platform to talented emerging artists who are producing exceptional work.

When

  • Submissions for the Delphian Gallery Open Call are open from 19th February until midnight 18th March 2018. Any files submitted after this time will not be accepted.
  • The Open Call will culminate with a group exhibition for the winners, opening at our London space on Thursday 3rd May, 7.30–10pm. The exhibition will be open to the public till the 16th of May. Please note, daily exhibition is open Monday-Friday 9am-7 pm.

T&Cs click here

Who

  • The Open Call is open to all artists working in a printable format. This includes painting, photography, collage, illustration and many others. The open call is open to International entrants.

How

To submit your work all you have to do is post it on Instagram

  1. Hashtag #delphianopencall 
  2. Tag @delphiangallery in the description
  3. Follow us (we may need to message you on Instagram)

We’ll be reposting some of our favourites along the way and the winners will be announced at the beginning of April. Keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram and Facebook feeds for updates!

Want to exhibit your work? Post on Instagram!
Submit now

Judges

This year we have a panel of incredible guest judges who, along with the Delphian team, will be deciding the winners! They are: Carne Griffiths, Diana Chire and Dougie Wallace.

Carne Griffiths

Working primarily with calligraphy inks, graphite and liquids, such as tea,  Griffiths’ fascination with drawing focuses on the creation and manipulation of the drawn line.

Since establishing his own studio in 2010, Carne has exhibited in the UK and overseas with work shown at the London Original Print Fair, the Royal Academy, Stroke Art Fair, Afforadble art fair, the London Art Fair and with solo Exhibitions in Brighton, Hong Kong, Milan, Dubai and an upcoming show in Hamburg.

Carne’s illustration work has seen him collaborate with the British photographer Rankin for a 6 page feature in Hunger magazine as well as featuring  in publications worldwide, notably for several covers of the New York Observer, English Heritage magazine and for Brand projects including work for Microsoft, Derwent, Peroni, Lakes Distillery and Ibis Hotels.

Diana Chire

Diana Chire is a London-based visual artist and the founder of She-Zine, a magazine for women in the arts.

Born in Egypt and raised in London to Ethiopian parents, her work focuses on themes of feminism and racial identity.

In 2015, she curated ‘TAKE! EAT!’ – An impromptu 16-strong all-female guerrilla exhibition in opposition of Frieze Art Fair. It was a revolutionary act of intersectional feminism and garnered the attention of the very male artists and critics that she wished to counterpoint.

She has recently been chosen as one of iD’s favourite artists in their RADICALS issue. Her short film entitled ‘Loulwa’ premiered in February 2018 at Rio Cinema, London.

Dougie Wallace

East London-based photographer Dougie Wallace grew up in Glasgow. Internationally recognised for his long-term social documentary projects and a distinct direct style of expressive street photography. His books Stags, Hens and Bunnies, A Blackpool Story and Shoreditch Wild Life generated critical acclaim and a viral buzz. His book, Road Wallah, which offers a unique insight into the world of Bombay cab drivers was published in February 2016 and has been exhibited at numerous photo festivals and gallery shows. His latest series Harrodsburg was published in March 2017. Harrodsburg has had two major exhibitions as well as featuring in numerous national and international publications. 

In March 2017 BBC4 broadcast a 30 minute documentary about Dougie Wallace, which focuses primarily on the Harrodsburg work and is part of the series What Artists Do All Day. The programme follows Dougie on the streets of Knightsbridge as he completes the photographs for the book.

Want to exhibit your work? Post on Instagram!
Submit now

Carson Lancaster – Lost Coast opening night

Thank you to everyone who came to the opening night of Lost Coast by Carson Lancaster. It was a great night! Also a big thanks to Camden Town Brewery for kindly providing the beers and keeping everyone refreshed.

The exhibition runs until the 24th January and is open 9-7 Monday to Friday. Find out all about the work on show here.

Limited edition prints of selected works are available in the Delphian Store.

BUY PRINTS

The Gallerist – Carson Lancaster

Our first show of 2018 is the amazing Lost Coast by San-Fransisco based artist Carson Lancaster. Watch the amazing documentary The Gallerist above to learn more about him and his work.

Join us for the private view on the 11th January. 

DETAILS HERE

 

Drinks for the private view kindly provided by Camden Town Brewery and Patron Tequila.


Jesus Leguizamo

Jesus Leguizamo

Jesus Leguizamo is a figurative painter from Bogotà, Colombia who recently featured in Saatchi’s list of new and upcoming artists. His works are rich in detail and are incredibly tactile. They are portraits of vivid memories and abstract concepts including themes such as fatherhood, war and love. Sections of his paintings are intensely focused or canbe confused in a haze of passionate expression through colour and form.

Many today may disregard the value of paintings that delicately render our physical appearances in a world of camera technology and cheap means of reproduction. Everyday, millions of images of us go online on Instagram and Facebook. All of us share our experiences to preserve a moment in our lives in order to say, “Yes, this is me. I was here.”

However, painting in the realm of art has far more complexities in the way of attaining a multi-facetted essence of our existence. Throughout history we have always been drawn to images of human faces in the pursuit of stories they may tell. Personal histories and relationships are embedded in each brushstroke. Works like the paintings by Jesus Leguizamo are not simply faithful recreations or most detailed copies of how a person looks like. What is truly revealing is when we turn our attention to the information the artist chooses to omit,blur or distort and the reasons behind these decisions. It’s through these balances that we gain insight. The human sphere isn’t so stable as a photograph, nor are the ideas that define who we are.

The hand touching paintbrush on to canvas is the hand that presses the camera shutter. Two kinds of reality interpreted: a layered thoughtfulness as opposed to spontaneity as seen in nature. Both can be equally exciting but through contemporary figurative painting, we may be more fruitful in discovering interwoven dynamics of conscious and unconscious intentions within layers of paint.

To the viewer, Leguizamo communicates the mind’s eye. All surroundings are condensed to blocks of light or dark. Sometimes steams of light are permitted, or thick dabs of paint that recall violent emotional links. Actions are often concentrated on and our eyes are drawn to the way a scholar scratches his head in frustration or the lingering gaze of a soldier, dressed and ready to go into combat. We cannot read any other aspect of his expression or know with any clarity what he truly looks like. Striking impasto paint, fleshy tones of redand brown evoking images of healing wounds, obscure most of his face. Is this the echo of a loved one’s memory? Or does it foreshadow emotional and physical trauma to come? Where the photograph is a window to the eyes, the painting is a window to our inner selves.

Leguizamo’s work is so accessible because it gives us the thrill of uncovering clues to the human condition. From understanding others, we can begin to understand ourselves.

Words – Wingshan Smith


Ellen Pearson – Lawless

We’re very excited to announce that Ellen Pearson will be exhibiting with us in Obscurely Prophetic.

 

As well as photography, Ellen directs films, one of which can be watched  HERE

LAWLESS

UK Chanel 4 television premiere 2016

Screened at Encounters Film Festival 2016, London Short Film Festival 2017, San Francisco Sex Worker Film & Arts Festival 2017

Exhibited at ‘Embrace’ by Girls In Film, as part of the Touch Sensitive series at Guest Projects, London

 

 


Conversation between artists Benjamin Murphy and Billy Childish.

 

Billy Childish is an artist who is as prolific in painting as he is in poetry, prose, and music, all of which coalesce to form a coherent body of work that would take most people four lifetimes to create.

His work transcends the gossip about his character, be it his involvement with a prominent YBA or his short-lived membership of a certain art movement.

His work is created from a conceptually free mindset, and his work shuns the pretentiousness enacted by the more self-conscious. He believes that art should be autonomous and that the viewer must read each work as they see it.

On top of all of this, Billy Childish is one of the most genuine and well-mannered men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Below is the transcript of a conversation I had with him last year before his solo exhibition The House At Grass Valley at Carl Freedman Gallery.

 

BM – What relevance does the House at Grass Valley have, to both yourself and this body of work?

BC – Most of my paintings come from an immediate response to images, this was in response to a photograph of their house in Grass Valley California. My friend Johnny’s father built the house and I have visited there with my wife who is from California. My work is carried out very quickly, the response is very automatic. There’s little mental process, just this quick reaction – it’s how most of my work is undertaken. It’s not important that there is a real house Grass Valley. People might want to know the story but a painting is in another world that lives beyond the location. The ‘real’ almost becomes immaterial.

BM – Why did you choose to include the works of Russian Literature: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Gogol etc.?

BC – These people had a visceral engagement with life, and decent human integrity. I like people with moral depth and intelligence. All of these things are not bound in time; I believe a painting collapses time. That sounds grandiose in a way…

BM – You mean its universal?

BC – Yes, the paintings are difficult to place, you could place them anywhere in the last hundred years, but I would also counter that they are very modern. They acknowledge their history if you like, and wear their hearts on their sleeves. I declare my loves and celebrate my influences, which is something that artists used to do.

BM – I think the reason most artists these days are more reluctant to share their inspirations is because they are trying to claim that they have entirely original ideas.

BC – Yes, they want to pretend that they have invented everything themselves. We’re in this situation where art is tied to fashion. Art is almost trailing behind fashion, rather than leading from the front, so people are hugely worried about how to find themselves and how to be original rather than authentic. It’s very adolescent.

BM – A lot of artists don’t become relevant until long after they’ve died and society has had a chance to catch up.

BC – Absolutely, you can be so far ahead of the curve that you appear to be behind it – I’m one of those guys. It can be a problem if you’re career minded, but lucky for me I’m not. I paint the paintings that I want to paint when I want to paint them, I don’t do anything for an audience. There’s nothing more dated than the contemporary.

BM – Would you say you were an obsessive, is it a compulsion?

BC – I think that we’re all obsessive and compulsive. Whether it’s: somebody who’s obsessive about working in a bank; or tidying their house; or someone who’s obsessively creative.

BM – A lot of your inspirations (Van Gogh, Dostoyevsky, Munch) make works about isolation. I see that same isolation in a lot of your work, be it painting, prose, poetry etc. Is that a concern or an inspiration for you?

BC – I suppose I have been trying to work out who I am and what that might mean, it takes lot of introspection. I was not given a lot of good information as a young man, and I come from quite a fractured background. I was finding maturity and a path through all of that. I now know the value of being here and the value of integrity, truth, and honesty. It’s taken a long while, and its not through my cleverness or my abilities, its through luck and grace.

BM – You had a tough upbringing in certain ways; do you believe that artists who have suffered some kind of hardship are naturally better artists?

BC – I think a lot of expression, and trying to understand the world can come from dysfunction. If somebody is burdened with suffering it can be a very valuable tool for them.

I’m sure art encourages mad men, and I’m sure it helps some mad men.

BM – So would you say that these works are more autonomous than your early works?

BC – I’m in them, but I don’t use the same piece of brain as I used to. The hand that drew in the caves is the hand that draws now, there’s no gap. It’s primal, because its unconscious and it’s beyond time. Beauty is highly underrated, and so is craft and aesthetic. I often say to people I don’t make art I make pictures; I leave art to the artists.

BM – That’s the opposite of what a lot of contemporary artists would say.

BC – That’s because I’m being sarcastic and in fact they’re not artists. If something needs to be in a gallery to be recognized as art, it very possibly isn’t.

BM – With conceptual art, do you not believe that the crafting of an idea is enough rather than the crafting of a material?

BC – Anything can be enough; I don’t have any problem with conceptual art. I’m happy for Tate Modern to be full of conceptual art, for it to be a Sunday outing for families, and for it to be like an amusement park.

But I would also say that a lot of conceptual art has devalued its own language through overuse. The same can be said of abstract art. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t have relevance or value but if you have a diet of only chocolate it makes you sick.

Society and art are all so diabolically mundane because it is very easy to big up rubbish and very easy to dismiss the real. Very few people can tell the difference. But the real will always survive and will eventually raise itself to the surface in good time.

When I talk about this stuff people think what a dark view, but I have a total optimism in this.

BM – Do you think that the art world nowadays is too celebrity-focused?

BC – Society is obsessed with celebrity, and there’s no reason why art would be excluded from that. It’s that adolescent trend, the decadence of the world we live in. The art world personifies that decadence. It’s all greed; greed is borne of a lack of confidence, and a lack of spiritual belief. It’s not because these people are bad but that they lack self-confidence. We feel that we’re in competition with each other, and that’s because we’re a spiritually bankrupt decadent society. But truth and goodness will always survive.

BM – A lot of your work is quite melancholy, would you agree?

BC – Melancholy is underrated; there is a very melancholic feel to the world. A lot of people misunderstand melancholy; in a way it can be an introspective and calm place. It’s not going to obliterate you, it just tones everything down – its not misery. We’re such a mixed bag of emotions, and we have to understand that we live beyond them. There are a lot of quite dark things in my poetry because one of my favorite things is a black humor. Often people are surprised that I’m quite lighthearted.

BM – Do you think that for you your work is a way of excising some past demons?

BC – I think it does happen, it’s all tied into this existential feeling of being lost and alone without god.

It doesn’t matter where the problem is it’s just how much you identify with it. And being able to not identify with those aspects of ourselves, just recognize them. The ones who find it difficult are the ones who get stuck in identifying themselves as a particular aspect or qualification; they become defined by events that have happened to them, or their abilities.

The things we are always looking for is freedom, either by controlling others or by greed and money and power. But we’re seeking what we already have, and causing mischief for others in the process by looking in the wrong places. It stems from a lack of confidence in ourselves and a lack of self-awareness. One of the main jobs in life is loving yourself; you don’t have to become some kind of saint, you just have to have the guts to get to know yourself, and realize that your problems and defects are perfectly ok.

(Originally published in This Is Tomorrow Magazine)


Kevin Perkins

 

We’re very excited to announce that we will be working with Texas-based artist Kevin Perkins. He will be putting some works into our next show Obscurely Prophetic (more details to come soon).

Check out his page under our Artists tab for more info.