John Murphy …(Vella), 2002-2003 Oil on canvas, in two parts, (2) x 230 x 169 x 3 cm


I’m aiming to create meaning in the space that exists between the words and the image,

without at the same time specifying meaning…the subject comes to rest somewhere outside the mere facts of a piece

John Murphy’s practice can be characterised through his use of existing material, such as reproductions and ready – mades, creating visually austere but conceptually complex configurations of found images, objects and texts using post cards, books, film stills, painting and poetry.

Speaking of Murphy’s paintings, critic Michael Newman has written, “ They are concerned with limits – the limits of both art and life - in a way which, taken seriously, becomes disturbing. Art becomes the place where solitude, unfulfillable desire and death can no longer be forgotten.”

Preoccupied with the relationship between vision, things and language whilst playing on the theme of similarity and difference, John Murphy’s art historical lineage can be traced through a specifically European Symbolist – based conceptual tradition descending from Mallarmé and Jarry through to Duchamp, Magritte and Broodthaers. The artist’s process of accumulating and arranging fragments of images and language is echoed in the viewer’s experience of the exhibition, where memories of things encountered shape the perception of other things yet to be seen. The blurring of boundaries between past and present is emphasized by Murphy’s practice of revisiting his own material and re – presenting previously exhibited works in different configurations potentially generating new meanings. Neither a purely perceptual or conceptual experience, the exhibition is conceived as a work of art in its own right, creating a space where the viewer is constructed as the subject establishing the relationship between reading and seeing and where meaning is necessarily unfixable.



John Murphy, né en 1945, vit et travaille à Londres. Parmi ses expositions personnelles on peut noter celles-ci: Selected works Jack Wendler Gallery London 1973, Selected works Museum of Modern Art Oxford 1975, Whitechapel Art Gallery London 1987-88, John Murphy Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol 1988, « John Murphy » Villa Arson, Nice 1997, « Acquisitions from the late 90s » Tate Britain, London 1998, « A Conversation pièce » with Juliao Sarmento, Museum of Modern Art Oxford 1998, « The Way up and the Way down » Southampton City Art Gallery and Museum, Southamptom 1999, « And things throw Light of Things » Ikon Gallery and Barber Institute, Birmingham, 2004-05, « Up or Down it’s All the Same; in Ghent or Venice » Het Kabinet , Gent 2005, Kunstmuseum Trondheim en 2013, Of Voyages, Of Others Places, Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Opéra Monde – La quête d’un art total, Centre Pompidou Metz 2019-2020, « Unreadiness » Roger Raveel Musem 2023, « History Tales. Fact and Fiction in History Painting », Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, 2023. Son travail figure dans de nombreux musées et collections internationales, don't la Tate Modern London, le Mudam à Luxembourg,  MuZee à Ostende, la Fondation Serralves à Porto, La Caixa à Barcelone, le Carré d’Art à Nîmes, le Musée des Beaux Arts à Nantes et le Musée d’Art Contemporain de St Etienne.


2016 Show your Wound, TEFAF cobntemporary, Maastricht


Show your Wound, TEFAF cobntemporary, Maastricht

John Murphy 2015 ARCO Madrid


ARCO Madrid

2015 Fall upward, to a height


Fall upward, to a height

John Murphy 2014 Such are the vanished coconuts of hidden Africa


Such are the vanished coconuts of hidden Africa


1975. J.M.Selected Works,Jack Wendler, London,210 x 147 mm – 80 pages

1985.‘Stuck in the Milky Way’, Lisson Gallery, London,254 x 217 mm – 32 pages

1987-8.‘John Murphy’, Whitechapel Gallery, London, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol,270 x 220 mm – 32 pages

1990.‘Silent Vertigo’, Lisson Gallery, London,260 x 270 mm – 16pages

1991.‘Inaugural Violence’, Christine Burgin Gallery, John Weber Gallery, New York280 x 216 mm – 18 pages

1996. ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Deaf Man’, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin,307 x 245 mm – 16 pages

1996.‘Navigating in Madness’, Galerie de Luxembourg, Luxembourg,307 x 245 mm – 16 pages

1997.’John Murphy’, Villa Arson, Nice,269 x 212 mm – 36 pages

2003. ‘The Way Up and The Way Down’, Southampton City Art Gallery and Museum, Southampton,212 x 160 mm – 32 pages

2004-5.‘And Things Throw Light on Things’, Ikon Gallery and Barber Institute Birmingham,297 x 248 mm – 32 pages

2006.(Between the Acts), Lisson Gallery, London,240 x 170 mm – 28 + II pages

2006.‘…the stench of shit…’ Galerie Erna Hecey, Brussels,281 x 191 mm – 30 pages

2013.‘Of Voyages, Of Other Places’, Trondheim kunstmuseum, Trondheim,285 x 215 mm – 16 pages

2013.Epreuve (Voyage Towards the Edge of the Night) Gevaert Editions, Brussels,345 x 265 mm – 10 pages