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The Comedy of Errors

Art Works: Angelo Murphy

13 December 13

"The thoughts and inspiration behind the work for my show draws heavily on folklore and mythological themes; a rich quarry for any artist"

As a visual artist I’m obsessed not with intellect and concepts, but the visceral. My work is a response to what I find inspiring in the world, an honest attempt at creating something unique born out of an appreciation of both the dramatic and the mundane in literature, music, folklore and mythology.

My work is always figurative and I work mostly from memory or what knowledge I have retained. It’s not important for me to use a model; I can invent shadow and backlighting and it can all happen intuitively or without too much planning just as I’m about to commit to a project. There is nothing more challenging or exciting than confronting a canvas with just an idea in your head, or from your sketchbook, and a paint brush in your hand.

The thoughts and inspiration behind the work for my most recent show, Aspects of Lore and Shadow, draws heavily on folklore and mythological themes. Past projects had included the creation of several large works based around some of the Irish tales of Cuchulainn, so it wasn’t unfamiliar territory; a rich quarry for any artist. Myths and folklores in today’s enlightened times might appear somewhat simplistic or even ridiculous no matter how sophisticated the design. What I have attempted to do with the work in this show is to simply be inspired, to re-evaluate, re-interpret and put down on paper and canvas the results.

Odysseus Leaving Ogygia is oil on canvas and measures 128cm x 107cm. The painting probably took me about three months to complete in my evenings and weekends. The inspiration behind it is the story of the Greek hero Odysseus, from Homer’s Odyssey, and his journey home after the fall of Troy. Not long into his journey, Odysseus and his crew are shipwrecked during a violent storm. Favoured by the Gods, Odysseus is the sole survivor and is safely deposited on the shores of the Isle of Ogygia. Odysseus becomes beguiled and enchanted by the island’s ruler, Calypso. A gloriously resplendent nymph with preternatural beauty, Calypso is determined to keep Odysseus on the island and have him for her consort and lover; thereby angering the Gods who have decreed the coupling of mortal and nymph to be illicit. After seven years, Hermes is tasked by the Gods to persuade Calypso to allow Odysseus safe passage home. Although at first she is disinclined, she yields after observing Odysseus, morose and lugubriously pining for his homeland.

I had fun re-interpreting this story with a little help from the disc pictured on the phonograph, Jaques Brel’s Le Port d’Amsterdam, that gave rise to a completely new staging of the drama. Ogygia has become Amsterdam, Calypso is represented not by one amorous enchanted nymph but a multitude of naked women dancing in the windows of the buildings. Odysseus points the way to the ‘party’s over’ Hermes unaware that the monkey stowaway, a symbol of his exotic sojourn, is along for the journey.

Aspects Of Lore And Shadow is at Buxton Museum until Saturday 7 December. Then Focus Gallery, 108 Derby Road, NG1 5FB from Friday 13 December 2013 - Friday 31 January 2014

Angelo Murphy website


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