Please Boss Remember Me
VITRINE Bermondsey Street, London
7 March – 12 April 2014
By SOPHIE HILL, APR. 2014
Please Boss Remember Me is Canadian artist Wil Murray’s first solo exhibition in the UK featuring works spanning the past two years. As such, the exhibition works change in medium, approach and mood as we walk between them, each exploring a different aspect of Murray’s preoccupation with the brushstroke. The brushstroke – and the various processes Murray takes care to create them with – is what holds these works together, entering them into a conversation that is carried out through painting and photography. The tension between painting and photographs is pulled at throughout Murray’s work as he looks into the increasingly blurred lines between them. As soon as a painting is finished the first reaction has become to take a photo of it as documentation; does the image then stand simply as a representation of the work, or do we begin to view this as a new artwork in itself? Murray takes this action and provokes it, photographing his brushstrokes as they emerge, documenting them and then using this photographic interpretation for new compositions - time and process are called into question.
Collages appear as the first answers to these questions; small graphic works such as the Collage Drape series, together with the larger and three-dimensional Not not trite quotes not not empty politics not not evangelism… which confronts visitors as soon as they step into the gallery. Brushstrokes appear to multiply from these 3D collages, stepping forward – empowered in their various guises – from the wall. The brushstrokes are a mixture of paint on paper, photography and physical paint that has been painted onto glass then peeled off to create objects in themselves. The pain taken to create each stroke, seemingly the same but created differently, illustrates Murray’s concern for his process; indeed, each varying texture draws our attention in further. Why Are you Looking Up Here The Yoke Is In Your Hand is a ‘painting’ made up completely of photographed brushstrokes, bar the bright orange stroke-less background. In abstracting his brushstrokes, Murray gives their beautifully free and expressive forms a life of their own, as they curve and reach organically out of their frames.
These lively and colourful forms are what Murray takes further in the remaining works of the exhibition. These are smaller works, framed and two-dimensional, using complete photographs – either found in books or taken by Murray himself – as a base. Brightly coloured brushstrokes are playfully imposed upon these bases, hiding further images within their translucent skin. Adieu vielle Europe 6 & 7 are absorbing examples of these: works that visualise the potential of images to express more than one memory or image. The photograph is emphatically interrupted by the sweep of a brushstroke that reveals a glimpse of another picture – gleeful in its ability to show us more than initially meets the eye.
Please Boss Remember Me works on many levels, so considered is Murray’s practice. Our reaction depends on how deeply we want to delve into his explorations of paint, photography, time and process. Even if you haven’t time to contemplate these ideas, Murray’s work is just wonderful to look at.
Sophie Hill is founder of postcardwall, an online publication about art inspired by postcards. Sophie has curated exhibitions for galleries in London and New York, and regularly writes text for artists. Sophie graduated from the University of York in 2009 with a BA in History of Art & English Literature; she lives and works in London.
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