AF: Where has the main inspiration been drawn from for this show and what is the relevance of the title, “Gilded Chaos”?
BM: The title is in reference to a quote by Charles Baudelaire from the essay Painter Of Modern Life. Baudelaire is a huge inspiration for me, and this phrase in particular summed up exactly what I wanted the show to become. I like the interplay between beauty and ugliness, and this two-word phrase seems to encompass my position on it perfectly.
AF: Your work has progressed a huge amount from previous exhibitions in the level of detail that you are showing. How do you think this adds to the work as a whole?
BM: Detail allows me to make a much more visually appealing work, whilst also preserving the starkness that is so important in my work. I try to keep the works balanced between areas of white, black, and detail. The detailed areas appear grey, which along with the more black areas, make the white (which is always the figure) pop out from the background.
AF: There is an introduction of much more foliage and natural elements in this body of work, including some plant still lifes without a figure included. Why is this?
BM: Partially its because the word ‘gilded’ suggests lavishness and attention to detail. It’s also because I am always trying to push the work forwards in terms of progression. Detail is an obvious way to do this.
In terms of the floral elements, I’ve been reading about William Morris and his designs have inspired me greatly. I also love the floral elements in Carne Griffiths’ work.
AF: There are some hidden messages in these new works, can you tell me more about these?
BM: Because these works are taking longer than my previous ones, the influences are more varied. I’ve started writing hidden messages in the borders of the work that all reference the influences of the piece more directly than the pictorial representations of them. They are often illegible and I don’t keep a record of what I’ve written, so they are obscure to even myself sometimes.
AF: In one piece, there is a grandfather clock with no hands on it. What is the significance of time in your work?
BM: In the typical ‘vanitas’ sense, a lot of my works reference the passing of time, and by association, death. But the death reference isn’t a morbid one, it’s more of a ‘don’t take the fleeting time you have left for granted’ kind of message.
AF: Literary references seem to play a big part in the work, such as in the piece Aleph, (which refers to a short story by Jorge Luis Borges) Can you tell me a bit more about that?
The Aleph is a story about a man who finds a black-hole type object that through which one can view every point in the universe simultaneously. So in this work I’ve added lots of conflicting points of perspective, lots of time and space references, and also some poetic ones. It is the second piece I did for the show, and the first I did that was at the level of detail that the new works is.
AF: What are you plans for your next show?
BM: I have a four-person show at Subliminal Projects gallery next month, which is on Sunset Boulevard in LA and owned by Shepard Fairey.
Gilded Chaos – Benjamin Murphy
Jan 14th – Feb 13th
1 Baldwin Street, EC1V 9NU London, United Kingdom
Interview by Nick JS Thompson