‘Samual Beckett’s 1972 play Not I is known for its simple yet evocative production. A stage in total darkness save for a mouth illuminated by spotlight appears floating in the void- the vast blackness of the stage intensifies the feeling of frenzy and breathless panic that the mouth conveys through fragmented orations ‘. . . . . out . . . into this world . . . this world . . . tiny little thing . . . before its time . . . in a godfor– . . . what? . . girl? . . yes . . . tiny little girl . . . into this . . . out into this . . . before her time . . . godforsaken hole called . . .’ It is a short dramatic monologue where the words are spit forth in quick succession with no face or body adding context-only hovering orifice of lips, teeth, tongue and gums. Murphy’s paintings often feature singular body parts that hover and dance. The organs and body parts that grope and fumble evoke a nervous angst. Energy takes precedence as the painted image is contained but always threatens to breach the border of the canvas. They are ‘feeling’ rather than ‘thinking’ paintings that are concerned with human emotion and the human condition.
Murphy’s painting A Mouth that Pines pictures a face, flushed and blotchy – the eyes appear to be glazed maybe with tears. Two strategically placed blue dots on each eye suggest a glassy twinkle. It might be the moment before a torrent of briny water bursts over lids and spills onto molten cheeks. In Mildred Rasher Bean two fists push upwards defiantly against a bean shaped head – clenched fists meet the receptively soft flesh of the face. Mouth agape and bellowing, the eyelids recede into the depths of the eye sockets encouraged by a small hook. There is a sense of anticipation, tension and a growing mania. Murphy’s large-scale compositions seem to capture the point at which these figures reach a fit of pique then fragment.’
-Extracted from Within and Without by Ingrid Lyons
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