'S01.E01' by Murray Clarke

Murray (b.1992, London) explores the vagaries of our attitudes and feelings and how sincerity can easily slip into irony. The works oscillate between disclosure and concealment, joyful and saturnine. Whilst personal, the paintings reveal more about the audience than the artist.

Whether it be through utilising imagery from The Wizard of Oz, video game companies, or through paintings of sensual fabrics, there is no doubt as to the immediacy with which we are absorbed. The quiet subject matter, a piece of fabric or an adjustment to the cuff of a shirt for example, offer a moment of stillness and reflection; almost as if to say, ‘take a seat I’ll put the kettle on’, and yet, something about these works simultaneously repel, as a facetious sincerity begins to reveal itself. Conjured from the horror vacui of our shared existence, the paintings are suffused with a Capitalistic shallowness that shatters the initial security and warmth purported. In equal parts these paintings both invite us and push us away as we begin to question their initial warmth embrace and we are
ultimately left vacillating over their true nature.

“For starters I think maybe I should have titled my exhibition ‘Emerald City’ as that might have conveyed the themes of the show a little clearer, however it’s my first ever solo show and I felt S01.E01 was quite fitting. I always thought it was cool when artists number their works and I wanted to do something similar. I like that S01.E01 is about me, rather than say a wider societal issue that I’m purporting to address with my paintings. Whenever I’ve been to someone’s debut solo show, I’m far more interested in their feelings and excitement. How long did you spend deciding what you were going to wear? For me, my paintings fluctuate between being very warm, rich and inviting (is saying you like your own work a giant faux pas?) and then on the flip side, being a bit cold and shallow. Are they no more than pretty pictures you might find in a shop window? Yet objects in shops are inviting. We can all get a little caught up in lusting after something with absolutely no practical use that we certainly don’t need but that for some reason has taken our fancy, and I guess the same may be true for art.”

“I suppose lust might be considered a bit of a cheap, rather fleeting feeling, a far shallower reaction than the sorts of feelings good art should conjure perhaps. I wanted the Wizard of Oz paintings to be at the start and end of the show, almost bookending the other works. The Wicked Witch lusts after Dorothy’s ruby slippers (don’t we all!) and the scarecrow just wants a brain. Again, don’t we all! Maybe then we wouldn’t fall for these shiny illusions created for us by that dastardly Wizard! I begin to wonder to myself if I would ever really be able to do a Dorothy and pull back the curtain and expose the Wizards of today for the charlatans they are when I’m the biggest patsy of them all! Of course I know that the Wizard doesn’t have the power to grant my every wish! I know I’m being lied to but they’re currently 50% off.”