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Charlie Murphy
From May 31st 1986 to June 28th 1986
Toronto 1985

*This exhibition is dedicated to Michael Brennan.

All of Murphy’s assemblage-paintings exhibited here originate from photographs taken in Toronto in 1985. The titles speak for themselves: Sidewalk, City gardener, Café Bistro, MacDonald’s, He ran…, Yonge Street, Parade, August 10, 11 a.m., Quiet city, Sunday, and Good-bye Toronto, Hello Cape Breton. Murphy’s photographic style has evolved from the snapshot tradition following Kertesz, Cartier-Bresson and, especially, Robert Frank who has most strongly influenced him. But the photograph itself is only the first step of this work. As he said himself in 1983: “These works show how my watching became doing”.

The assemblage-paintings of “Toronto – 1985” integrate entire series of photographs juxtaposing them against a painted surface. The combination is particular in the way that preserves the clear independence of the diverse materials. Photographs, painting, and other objects are strictly dissociated from each other. Likewise, the titles, often placed on the very surface of the painting, function specifically as a narrative component. In each painting, the photographs also used as narrative elements unfold around an anecdotal thematic. This theme is, itself, articulated at a second level as a larger narrative.
- Press release (Optica)

Charlie Murphy was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia. A self taught photographer, he first received recognition working with and under the direction of Robert Frank in 1976. It is at that time that he began to integrate collage, painting and drawing in his works, discovering only later the affinities of his methods with those of Schwitters and Rauschenberg. Since that time, he developed his composite works in many directions: diptychs juxtaposing collages and photography (as in My Mother was an American – 1982), photographs of photographic assemblage (as Venizia 1979), integration of texts in many different ways, and of painting in photography (Aunt Wawi in my mother’s kitchen and others in 1984) or photography in painting (this actual series), etc.