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SoEdited interview with Benjamin Murphy ahead of the opening of ANTIHERO

With a hint of Art Nouveau’s Aubrey Beardsley black lines and detailed patterns, Benjamin Murphy uses electrical tape to create and glamourise the female form. Creating a snapshot of a moment, a fleeting glimpse of inner thoughts via the gesture of a figurative movement.

Murphy is a stable part of the London art scene, yet not affiliated to any particular scene, and has forged out his own niche in the past 10 years.

SoEdited caught up with Benjamin to chat about his developing style.

 

SE:
Some of your early works document social situations. What was behind these ideas?

BM:
I try to depict people in unposed scenarios, as if we are seeing them during their private moments of inaction and introspection. For this reason I try to keep the actual action to an absolute minimum so as to leave the figures to be shown in contemplation rather than in the process of doing something. I want the work to feel very slow and quiet, but with the suggestion that more is going on in the characters mind – that’s where the action sits. These kind of scenarios can naturally look quite melancholic, and people can read into that whatever they like. I prefer to give the viewer as much scope to interpret my work as possible, and I think that any interpretation of an artwork is the correct one.

SE:
Some high-profile portraits have been part of your work. How is it to work with a subject, rather than just your imagination?

BM:
The actress Olivia Coleman commissioned me to draw her and her husband a few years ago, and they were both the loveliest people to work with, so that was an absolute pleasure. I went round their house photographing lots of patterns and objects to include in the background, so there were lots of sentimental items represented. They were very happy with the piece.

On the whole though, the portraits I’ve been commissioned to do have usually been much stranger subjects, which I think suits my work quite nicely.
I was asked a few years ago to draw Fred & Rose West, which meant that whatever I did, the work was going to invoke strong reactions. A few serendipitous and coincidental things happened, linking myself to them at the time I was making it, which was interesting.

soedited

Photograph by Nick JS Thompson

 

SE:
The male portrait and figure has very recently become part of you concentration in portraits. Why now?

BM:
I decided that I had been working very much within my comfort-zone, and so as soon as I identified that, it was time for a course-correction.

SE:
From your perspective. What is the difference between the male and the female as a muse?

BM:
The male figure is a lot easier to draw in general, as any slight diversions in line just appear as musculature. It’s harder to capture things like tenderness with the male form, but it’s important to challenge oneself with things like this, and to think about why these challenges may exist in the first place.

SE:
If we at SoEdited were to give you a commission, what would it be?

BM:
People keep asking me to do a self-portrait, which I always avoid. Perhaps it’s time.

SE:
When working in your studio, are you more comfortable being isolated or is it a social atmosphere?

SO:
My studio needs to be a very solitary place. Often I’ll spend days on one pattern, which can be unimaginably repetitive and my brain needs to pretty much switch off from it so as to be able to repeat the same action over and over again for hours at a time. The slightest distraction makes this progress very hard.

Aside from that my studio is less like the Baconesque studio most people imagine all artists to inhabit, and a lot more like a study or an office. There are lots of plants and books, and obviously lots of art works on the walls.

SE:
We have seen you grow into a very handsome man. What would you consider the attributes of being a handsome man?

BM:
“I am not an artist I’m a fucking work of art.” – Marilyn Manson

SE:
What was the last thing that offended you?

BM:
Offence is a very loaded term these days, and it’s been given more power than it deserves. People are so worried about offending or being offended that they completely shy away from debate, and opposing groups never interact. I believe that all topics should be on the table for discussion, even abhorrent ones, as the most successful way to tackle intolerance and bigotry is to undermine them in serious debate.
There are a lot of things politically that have been pissing me off recently, but for reasons stated above, I’m reticent to use the term offended.

soedited

Photograph by Nick JS Thompson

SE:
Have you been upset in the last 6 months. If so why…

BM:
I’m an eternal optimist, so not really no. I’ve seen a lot of sad things like everyone does, but I try to accept them and learn from them where possible.I’ve seen people die and relationships break down, but I am very much of the belief that we are not defined by things that happen to us, but by how we respond to such things.

SE:
You have an ability to be quite blunt. What is this bluntness?

BM:
Haha this is something I try to combat daily. I’m often quite indelicate! My friend Nick described my demeanour the other day as ”northern stoicism”, which is probably pretty apt – and absolves me from any responsibility, as it’s inbuilt and genetic.

SE:
What five songs define you?

BM:
The last five artists I’ve listened to on Spotify are:
Motörhead, Iggy Pop, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Slayer, Alice In Chains.

SE:
IS there a film that you wish you could have lived?

BM:
Nymphomaniac.

 

 

Benjamin Murphy – ANTIHERO
Delphian Gallery

Private view 03/07/19 18:00-2200
Paja&Bureau
Korkeavuorenkatu 7
00140 Helsinki

Show runs every day until the 11th.

Exhibition graciously supported by Paja&BureauCreat, and drinks for the private view supplied by Suomenlinnan Panimo

Tape kindly supplied by Cre8 Tapes


ANTIHERO – Benjamin Murphy in Helsinki

ANTIHERO is British artist Benjamin Murphy‘s 6th solo exhibition, and his 2nd in Helsinki following 2016’s ‘Vile Oblivion’.

 

To enquire about available works, please click HERE
Antihero

Black electrical tape on glass (encased in clear resin) FRAMED

ANTIHERO, however, marks a stark departure from what we already know, or think we know, of Benjamin and his work. Having spent much of his artistic career occupying a rare and liminal position within the conventional art world at large, his work bearing the hallmarks of many artistic movements and trends and yet never being fully identified or categorized within them, Benjamin has decided to eschew all preconceived expectations and assumptions about his work. The unconventional nature of Benjamin’s chosen medium (black electrical tape on glass) defies easy classification by being neither drawing, painting, nor sculpture has often seen him the outlier of many a group exhibition. But not dissimilar to the journey of maturity experienced by the titular character of Hans Christian Anderson’s 19th-century morality tale, it is after many years of honing his skill and singular vision in the artistic wilderness that Benjamin is able to thrive when given the platform of a solo exhibition. ANTIHERO, therefore, is Benjamin’s most earnest attempt at encapsulating his work and presenting it to the audience in exactly the way he deems fit, away from any outside influence.

ANTIHERO also marks an arrival, as, after many years with a sole focus on depicting predominantly female forms, Benjamin is presenting works portraying other genders for the first time. This change is due in part to growing frustration with the subject matter of his work, as well as an increased awareness that he’d had ended up operating from within his comfort-zone, and in part Benjamin’s realisation that he was representing only one type of beauty. By creating artworks that were popular and yet artistically safe, Benjamin was not only struggling to evolve as an artist but also neglecting the aesthetic beauty of other body-types ANTIHERO, therefore, can also be seen as a creative course correction for Murphy, away from his comfort zone and towards more challenging and rewarding lines of artistic enquiry.

Benjamin carries this anti-establishment and individuality through into his other artistic endeavors, principally among them Delphian Gallery, which he co-founded with friend and fellow artist Nick JS Thompson in 2017. Delphian manages to circumvent the traditional gallery model by operating as a nomadic curatorial practice, presenting the most exciting and innovative emerging and early-career artists on a national and increasingly international stage. They are also pioneers in harnessing the creative potential of social media, and their most recent annual open call competition garnered over 10,000 submissions from a global community of artists.

Benjamin’s prolific lust for learning, achieved through both a BA, MA and multiple online higher education courses, as well as his own personal autodidactism, not only sees his work imbued with many literary, art historical and philosophical references, but also sees him occupy the position of Associate Lecturer at University of the Arts London. Benjamin also writes extensively on art theory for a number of periodicals and publications.
ANTIHERO, finally, should be seen less as the presentation of a new body of work and more as the culmination of Benjamin’s last 7 years navigating the pearls and pitfalls of maintaining an artistic life, continuously experimenting and innovating whilst enriching his solo practice through a pervasive programme of reading, writing, curating, creating, lecturing, and most importantly, learning.
Hector Campbell, Art Historian, Writer and Curator

Private View – 18:00-22:00 03/07/19
Korkeavuorenkatu 7, 00140 Helsinki
The show then runs until the 11th.
To join us for the private view, please click HERE

For more by Benjamin Murphy, go HERE

 

Exhibition graciously supported by Paja&Bureau and Creat.