Jan Murray, Phasmid Studios

May > July — 2016 > Jan Murray

Phasmid Studios/Melbourne University/VCA : artist in residency

http://vca-mcm.unimelb.edu.au/staff/janettemurray

Artist Statement, 27th June 2016

Upon my arrival at PHASMID Studios in Marzahn, it was clear that the building was still very much a work in progress. I was the first and only resident at the studio complex and VCA’s Studio 5 had literally just been completed. The spacious light-filled studio with it’s 60’s Eastern bloc modernism – some would say brutalism – was architecturally unembellished, very minimally furnished with freshly painted white walls throughout and had newly installed, exposed plumbing as its only ornament.
As the first resident my purpose was twofold – to make my own work in the studio but also to furnish it and ‘make it more comfortable’. While I went about the latter task, I began painting trompe l’oeil representations of air vents grilles (sourced in Melbourne and in Berlin). In the context of the building and renovation work in progress around me, they struck me as totally appropriate subject matter – providing another kind of furnishing of the site.
Produced in pairs, these works function simultaneously as highly representational paintings of a range of different types of air vent or grille as well as simulacra of these rather generic and overlooked, almost invisible objects. Installed in the studio, they create a subtle, yet insistent intervention in the space, seemingly providing access to the internal architecture of the building – offering the illusion of ventilation holes in the walls. As one observer remarked, ‘the works function like ears – almost listening to the building. Perhaps too, they operate metaphorically as eyes – allowing a glimpse into the past and the rich history embodied this building that has seen both Russian and Stasi occupation.
Jan Murray (June 27, 2016)
Jan Murray completed her postgraduate qualifications at the VCA and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). She has received an Australia Council Project Grant and her Australia Council Residencies include Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Via Farini, Milan and in 2010 the British School at Rome, Rome. Since 1982 she has shown regularly in both solo and group exhibitions in public museums, commercial galleries and artist run initiatives. Her work has been included in national and international surveys of contemporary art in Australia, Germany, France, Italy and the USA. Her work is widely represented in significant Australian public collections and she has also been collected by the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In 1999, she was recipient of a Nillumbik Shire Art Award. In 2003, the City of Glen Eira Gallery initiated a major touring exhibition, Southern Light: the art of Jan Murray, a twenty year survey of her installation and painting work. She is currently Head of the School of Art and Honours Coordinator and has taught at the VCA since 1983. She is represented by Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne. Research Interests Since 1990 Jan Murray’s practice has focused on certain relationships between painting and its internal and external architecture. Using a variety of means, she has presented the painting itself as subject or motif in seeking to interrogate the relationship between the painting and its primary support – the wall – and the architectural space in which it is placed. She has also expanded the investigation of these relationships through the introduction of three-dimensional representation – the creation and installation of plaster simulacra of paintings. This development added a sculptural dimension to the work and openly enhanced possibilities for play with altered realities and the dialogue between object and space. Recently she has tested the literal and metaphorical limits of painting as object and illusionistic vehicle. Building on previous work in which the paradoxes of perception and representation inherent in both looking and painting were acutely focused in an examination of the complex relationship between creative and destructive action.