This survey catches a great Australian painter at the height of his powers. Born in 1952, Idris Murphy developed deep roots in the history of painting as well as a profound feeling for the natural environment. Murphy’s idiom transcends “either/or” — it is indistinguishably landscape painting and painterly abstraction all at once. Arising from a sort of improvisatory incantation, the most vivid metaphors of land, space, light, mood and feeling seem to coalesce spontaneously and unbidden.
This happens even when Murphy’s pictorial means strike us as most improbable and outlandish: recent paintings make abundant use of metallic pigments and wildly abstruse colour combinations. Despite their bizarrerie and casual-looking primitivism, each painting resolves brilliantly into its surface and shape, and exudes a rare poetry of “place”.
Curated by Terence Maloon.
Toured by the Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra.