Hello, I am David Murphy, previously known as Cypher or The Panic Artist. I am a forty-eight-year-old (b. 1971), Irish Expressionist/ Realist painter and writer living and working in Dublin, Ireland.
I have painted since before I can remember, but I have been painting seriously for thirty-eight years - and my surviving oeuvre contains thirty-two years’ worth of paintings and drawings. The greatest artistic influences on my work have been; Baroque, Realism, Expressionism, Neo-Expressionism and Outsider Art.
My work is an anti-social, solipsistic, explosion of uncensored desire, and unregulated emotion. My art is about me and for me alone. My early life was fractured by, death, madness, perversion, unhappy love affairs, and virulent rejections from the art world – so my work inclines towards pessimistic nihilism. As a teenager, I suffered badly from an Oedipus complex (an inability to break my dependency on my mother) well in to my mid-twenties.
Since my father died when I was six and a half and I was brought up by my mentally ill mother (who was devoted and caring when well - but psychotically sadistic and domineering when mentally ill) and virtually all my teachers were women - I grew up with virtually no male role models. Thus my artistic rebellion was not against patriarchy – but rather controlling matriarchy! My work was also a rebellion against the provincial, Nationalistic, Catholic and bourgeois censorship and conformity I grew up under - and which resulted in Ireland being one of the most socially conservative and repressive nations in the West - with the strictest censorship laws in Western Europe.
My work is also a rejection of every current art world orthodoxy from; Marxism to Feminism, Structuralism, Deconstruction, the dictatorship of linguistics, academic contemporary art, Conceptualism, factory and foundry made art, political correctness, social activism and progressive political art.
Thus, my mediums are defiantly traditional; pencil, brush and ink, pastels, watercolours, alkyds, acrylics and oils and I use them in a manner the Expressionists over a hundred years ago would have recognised. What matters to me are traditional qualities of a craftsmanship and personal vision, authenticity and necessity.
I have no formal qualifications and I am largely self-taught as an artist. My art education - such as it is - consisted of a series of night classes taken intermittently over the course of twenty years, from the age of thirteen to thirty-three (mostly with private tutors or in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin). As well as one ill-disciplined year in Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design from 1989-90 - where I was accepted on the basis of exceptional talent. But I got into trouble after a fight with a fellow pupil and then found my depression and social anxiety prevent me from preforming to the level I had hoped. So I spent more time painting my "real art" at home (including self-loathing, nude self-portraits and erotic scenes) and thus failed my first year and was expelled.
My artistic heroes are; Pablo Picasso, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Vincent van Gogh, Lucian Freud, Richard Gerstl, Egon Schiele, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Willem de Kooning and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
A list of my subjects would include; self-portrait busts, nude self-portraits, female nudes, kissing couples, erotic scenes, landscapes, gestural abstractions, abstract word paintings, text paintings and most controversially pornographic scenes including: fellatio, cunnilingus, intercourse and sodomy. My themes would include; madness, isolation, loneliness, voyeurism and mediated desire.
In 2000 and 2002, I had two major shows in the Oisín Gallery in Dublin - but before and since I have had mostly rejections - many of them extremely disgusted and dismissive. Since May 2000, I have sold over €61,266 worth of art. The highest price paid for one of my paintings was €10,792 (The Dialectic of Emotions 1995 - sold in the Oisín Gallery in November 2000.) The average price for one of my works has been around €550 - 1,500. My art is in corporate and private collections in America, Ireland, England and Australia.
Because I grew up alone with my mentally ill mother - I withdrew into myself - and concentrated on my art to the exclusion of everything else. As a result of my childhood trauma, I have suffered from a borderline personality disorder, depression, social anxiety and chronically low self-esteem most of my life. I am narcissistic, introverted, reclusive, voyeuristic and desperately shy. It was only in my mid-twenties that I began socialising and trying to get my work shown in art galleries. I managed to get a number of exhibitions, but collected many more rejections. After my mother’s death in 2009, and my subsequent grief and mental breakdown - I withdrew again from the world in order to preserve my sanity. I also gave up trying to achieve art world recognition. Having received over 99 rejections from art galleries and curators around the world - I stopped giving them the satisfaction of turning me down. But I continued to paint more than ever - if only as a form of privileged therapy. As I aged, I became increasingly misanthropic, anti-social, nihilistic and disgusted by the sham of the art world and contemporary art.
To date my oeuvre contains over 4,098 paintings (acrylics, watercolours, oils, alkyds, mixed-media, collages, pastels or gouaches – mostly on watercolour paper) and over 2,753 drawings (pencil, ink, coloured pencils, chalks, or charcoal – mostly on watercolour paper.) I have also produced 4 sculptures, 27 mono-prints, 12 scrapbooks with examples of art I admire and 70 notebooks with over 3,350 sketches. Moreover, my surviving oeuvre represents only those works that have survived my own self-critical destruction. On average, I have destroyed about 20% of my initial artwork production. All my works including my mono-prints are handmade, unique, one-off pieces - made entirely by myself without assistants and with the best artist quality materials. However, of 4,098 paintings only around 259 or about 6.5% of them are on canvas, board or found objects - the rest were painted on watercolour paper. My lack of a studio and storage space, poverty, marginalization and my excessive creativity has forced me to work mostly on paper.
At heart, I am an Expressionist artist; my art is the very opposite of 'arts for art’s sake', in fact I see no separation between my art and my life, both feed from each other to form a highly autobiographical art.
My approach to art is distinctly Expressionist in character - my work tells stories about the human condition – which most can recognise and read – even if they cannot identify with it. Technically, I believe that the honesty of my art depends upon an approach that is as direct and spontaneous as possible. When I draw - I hardly ever use an eraser. If I make a mistake in my drawings - I either over draw the corrections or rip up the sheet. In my paintings, I mostly paint in an 'alla-prima' manner rarely using glazes and limiting the number of layers I apply.
Because I am fearful of criticism and ambivalent towards praise, chronically shy and loath most interactions with real people, about 80% of my work has been based upon photographs - of which about 60% were found in the media. I am so introverted that I have preferred to work indoors, under artificial light, at night, from; newspaper clippings, fashion-spreads, glamour and pornographic photos and sports action shots. I use these sources as a way of reacting to and commenting on the world without participating in it.
In my figure paintings (which form the core of my art), I break up the planes of faces and bodies into patches of broken colour, in a manner that owes something to my N.C.A.D. life-painting training and something to Lucian Freud.
My drawings have a strong, confident graphic outline - I know what I want, and what I want to leave out. My drawing and painting style is direct and summary, I do not attempt to hide my brush-marks, and their raw exposure gives my work its emotional depth. I pile up cryptic words, scratchy drawing, wild gestures and lunges of vivid colour. The words come from, philosophy, feminist, media and art books, Indie music and my own wild thoughts.
If you want consistency in an artist, you will never find it in my work. Most artists only ever do one thing. My art is not dependent upon a single style or manner. It has many strands. Taking my art as a totality - does not mean that it is all of equal value. There are major works but there are also many minor works of lesser value. However, the cumulative effect gets more powerful the more I produce and the more I complicate things. I work in conceptually based series, in which I adopt a particular style, medium and subject that I then pursue through dozens of paintings and drawings.
Favourite Visual Artist
Pablo Picasso, Julian Schnabel, Richard Gerstl, Egon Schiele, Vincent van Gogh, Lucian Freud, Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Basquait.
Lust For Life, The Rebel, Basquiat, Boogie Nights, Art School Confidential, While We Are Young, Francis Ha, Grand Budapest Hotel.
Favourite TV Shows
news, documentaries, comedies, reality TV.
Favourite Bands / Musical Artists
Lana del Rey, Lenoard Cohen, Chet Baker, Morrisey, The Smiths, Amy Winehouse, Charlie Parker, Billy Hoilday, System of a Down.
Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes, Alphabet of Villians by Brian Sewell Cather in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Picasso a Life by John Richardson, Flames of War.
Robert Hughes, Hilton Kramer, Camile Paglia, E. M. Cioran, Georges Bataille, Donald Kuspit, Marquis de Sade, Harold Rosenburg, Henry Miller.
Flames of War, Bolt Action.
Favourite Gaming Platform
Tools of the Trade
Acrylic, Oils, Alkyd, Spray Paint, Oil Sticks, Pencils, Pastels, Watercolour, Gouache, Indian Ink.
Art Galleries, Art History, Art Criticism, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Wargaming, Philosophy, Porn.