Nancy Margolis Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Erin Murray’s first solo New York exhibition, “Settling”, on May 9, 2013 and on view through June 15, 2013. The artist’s reception will take place May 9 from 6-8 pm.
Murray’s landscapes take built environments as their subject and formalize their banality as art. The show’s series of graphite and charcoal drawings features Murray’s characteristic austerity and, like the exhibition’s oil-on-panel paintings of unsettling landscapes, examines the real world in a surreal way. Devoid of people, Murray’s landscapes are permeated by an intensity that creates an anthropomorphic connect and imbues their mundane architecture with a significance otherwise unrealized.
Murray skillfully and innovatively employs different approaches to each drawing and painting so that, while the works in “Settling” vary in medium, the show’s mood and theme are consistent. Murray’s drawings are defined by their meticulous execution, striking perspectives, and high contrast, rendering these works near-portraits of the structures they depict, albeit cold and aloof. Through these techniques Murray monumentalizes her subjects, as in the large-scale Body Building (2012, 36″x108″). Intentionally stark, but dramatic, the drawing compels the viewer to empathize with the forgotten structure and find beauty in its symmetry.
The series of paintings offers a different mode of reductiveness. In contrast with Murray’s drawings, the paintings are replete with lush colors, radiantly rendered skies, depth of space, and lyrical, curvilinear forms. Nevertheless, they exude a similar timelessness and theatricality. Through titles such as Settling (potential energy) (2013, 24”x24”), Murray makes oblique references to the scene—the presence of a propane tank, electrical panel and solar array—while alluding to her landscapes’ emptiness, engendering nostalgia and contemplation.
A set of smaller paintings, titled Block Party (2013), likewise exposes the inherent artfulness of everyday structures. Each work hones in on a block-built wall, making abstract compositions of its colors, lines, shapes and patterns.
Interested in both the architectural history from which even the most humble of structures derive, and the cultural and economic realities they represent, the artist seeks meaning in seemingly meaningless spaces. In their precision and quietude, Murray’s works call attention to the oft-overlooked essence of built environments, making us see the extent to which we settle for our surrounds.
Erin Murray earned her B.F.A from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2001. She first showed at Nancy Margolis Gallery in 2011 with significant success. Since then, she has continued to show widely in Philadelphia and her work has been featured in several publications, including The Artblog, The Philadelphia Inquirer, New American Paintings Magazine, Tabletop Zine, and The News Journal. Her work is included in the collections of The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, PA, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, and The West Collection, Oaks, PA.
My work stems from my suspicion that the forms of the built environment carry an abundance of embedded meaning, which is reflective of our collective humanity even in the most humble of structures. A building or built form can be understood to represent our physical body, our cultural history, our economic reality, our long-formed habits. We naturalize our environment by reenacting the forms of the past, and we settle for the inevitable distortion. But with this distortion we also find things like sincerity, absurdity, failure, idealism and – hopefully – a sense of empathy.