Jan Murray showing her work to visitors

Jan Murray

1 July—30 September 2017

VCA - Melbourne University

In 2017 Jan Murray returned to Phasmid Studios to further research her enduring exploration of the traditions of tromp I’oeil and her investigation of the ‘anatomy’ of painting – specifically the relationship between the intrinsic and extrinsic architecture of the two dimensional canvas and the wall on which it hangs.

Developing on from a body of work begun at Phasmid in her 2016 residency, Jan continued to focus on architectural elements (vents and grilles) but also introduced other functional elements such as chutes and utility cupboards. These highly representational paintings were mainly sourced and faithfully modeled on examples of architectural features taken from Studio 5 at Phasmid and its immediate surrounds but also from various buildings in Berlin and Melbourne.

Largely realized in 1:1 scale these small, intimate paintings masquerade as unassuming functional elements, creating a subtle, yet insistent intervention in the space as they merge into their architectural surrounds. The chutes and utility cupboards represented with their doors and openings slightly ajar invite us to contemplate the worlds hidden within the painted surfaces as well as offering access to the internal architecture/ lived history of the building, – elevating the mundane into the mysterious. Another series of paintings, imaging shuttered windows from the neighbouring housing estate, similarly creates intrigue about the interior realities of these domestic residences while simultaneously bringing Jan’s view from the window into the studio.

Far more than mere quotation, this work encourages us to re-think our engagement with the architecture of spaces, to notice essential functional elements that are normally not ‘ considered or seen’ and to engage with processes of looking, perception and representation.

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.

This residency is generously supported by a Special Study Program (Long), VCA & MCM Faculty Research Grant, the University of Melbourne.

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