Wil Murray quotes John Hawkes and listens to Sparks and is currently showing his photography at Katzmann Gallery in Toronto for Contact (This is the last week to see it!) . He also has just opened a solo show in Vancouver at Back Gallery Project and his upcoming exhibition at the Art Gallery of Alberta is his first Museum exhibition which offers a great explanation of his process.
“Wil Murray’s interdisciplinary practice oscillates between the mediums of painting, photography and installation. Utilizing found photographs and books to expound an elaborate narrative, Murray often paints with vintage photographic oils, working interchangeably between original plates and large format photographic reproductions. This has developed into a deconstructed painting methodology.
Murray employs the techniques and principles of Beat-era cut-ups to the isolated paint stroke, separating it from the ground, and then photographing, bending and collaging it into a multidimensional site-specific painting installation. Murray describes this method as a test of the fidelity of the image, leaving the viewer to discern between the two: the ‘source’ and its manipulated, hyper-rendered extrapolation as a distorted, dimensional composition.” (
Murray currently lives in Alberta with plans to move back to Berlin. Murray says, “Not living in Toronto. I live in Okotoks, Alberta right now, but heading back to Berlin in the fall. Alberta has been inspirational in strange ways. Returning to where I am from, the deeply psychoanalytic time spent with family, the resource based economy, and my job as a preparator at the the Glenbow Museum has all played its part. But I want to live somewhere where my work can react to things the larger world gives a shit about.”
Here is the full interview...
Laura Horne-Gaul: Can you explain your title The Enemies of The Novel for you current exhibition in Vancouver at the Back Gallery Project?
Wil Murray: The title is an excerpt from a John Hawkes quote regarding his writing. He said: "“I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme, and having once abandoned these familiar ways of thinking about fiction, totality of vision or structure was really all that remained.” I adore his work. The Lime Twig, along with Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, is one of the greatest influences on my work. I take his quote as a guideline more than a vow toward structuralism….A possible approach to one’s practice.
LHG: You mentioned in an interview with Magenta that in your opinion “painting is like Rock n Roll, always dying and being reborn.” Can you expand on your thoughts on this idea? Are there any specific artists that you are referencing?
WM: I haven’t thought about this for a while. I’ve stopped paying attention to the stupid and cruel parts of the art world that want incessant novelty, and will murder and revive corpses in the name of it. These days I see painting as an ongoing question, a practice that must not maintain the market’s love of historical continuity.
I think my description for that Magenta interview had more to do with me struggling with a never ending supply of curators and critics that want to make their name on anything ignored enough to be revived. I use that Magenta book all the time in the studio, as a heavy weight to flatten papers.
LHG:How do you want people to view your work?
WM: I think I want them to see it in photograph first. Or I’ve just accepted that they will. I’m quite good at loving the inevitable no matter how awful it might be….it is a great survival tactic.
I have control over the photograph, but have little over how people view things in person. When I watch someone looking at my work I often think they’re doing it wrong.
The inverse of this is people who hang my work in their homes. I’m thrilled by what they find and write me. I mean, they spend far more time with the work than I ever did. I want people to glance at it, or live with it.
LHG: I read in your bio that you have been part of some noise/experimental bands, do you still play music? Do you listen to music while you work? if so what’s on shuffle?
WM: Now that I have a few weeks back at home, I plan to play my guitar….but that sounds very old man hobby-ish. I don’t really pursue anything in music anymore. It was fantastic, but more of that time and place in Montreal and Vancouver. Nights falling off tables with a guitar in my hands were brilliant, being on the same bill as mostly forgotten acts like Rivers and Mountains and Scream Baby Scream makes me love my twenties more than I often do.
I listen to music constantly in the studio….lately its been a lot of Crass’ The Feeding of The 5000 and Sparks’ No. 1 Song in Heaven.
LHG: Do you view your work as pure abstraction? You often veil the the figurative elements in the work, more so in your collages, why do you use this technique?
WM: It rarely seems like abstraction anymore. A bit like a city street, every single thing is made from an idea of what should happen there, at that time and composition is more accrued than built.
Veiling the figures felt awful and heavy, an appropriate feeling for hacking them out of a book I’ll never find another copy of for my own ends. The obfuscation of their faces had less to do with making things abstract, than it did attaching me to the pages they were printed on.
LHG: Can you expand on why you consistently derive inspiration from broadcasting?
WM: When I speak of broadcasting it is as verb, not a noun. More about how one broadcasts a painting now that we all carry cameras connected to the internet in our pockets.
That nearly every painter I know broadcasts their studio practice feels significant. A horrifying prospect of democratized practice mixed with vanity raises its ugly head, but I often think that dystopian vision is faulty and a product of my fears about the future. The desire to broadcast is fascinating. A few times a week I photograph something in the studio, intending to post it online and fail…or post and take it down.
LHG: Was your recent exhibition at Katzmann Gallery for CONTACT all photo based work or did you use works that included painting as well?
WM:The show at Katzmann falls into three series'. One only using silver gelatin prints hand coloured and toned and then built into planar, sculptural works. The second using a large paint stroke silver gelatin print working against a painted ground. The third are more traditional silver gelatin prints, most of which are multiple exposures at the camera stage and the darkroom stage; I paint on the negatives, sandwich them.
Right now, these three allow a generative process that feeds a collage practice rooted in the borderlands between mediums.
An Interview with WIL MURRAY about his recent exhibition at KATZMANN GALLERY AND BEYOND
by Laura Horne-Gaul May 22, 2015
Maustlize 1, hand-coloured gelatin silver print and wood on board, 10.5” x 13.5” x 4”, 2015
Pieces O' Six 3
Hand Coloured Silver Gelatin Print, Acrylic Paint, Masonite and Wood
Hand Coloured Silver Gelatin Print, Acrylic Paint, Masonite and Wood
Rotten Row 3 Collaged Inkjet Prints 8X6