You Won't Get What You Want
48 x 48 inches
John Murdock is concerned with what it means to bring flesh into light. The light in his paintings is pervasive and sourceless. The figures exist on an airless stage, in artifice. Hostile plants and vague furniture sit in judgement of the players. His paintings are almost always bisected by a bleak line, a moral bound in melodrama.
John’s painting process is one of adjustment and readjustment. He likes it when you can see a work’s bones and that those bones are in strange places. He paints domestic scenes that complete and then abase themselves. The narrative of his work emerges and disappears through this process -- he generally knows a painting is done when I don’t know what the figures are doing any more.
Growing up in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, John became familiar with landscapes so unadorned as to be vacuums, as well as a certain built blankness: Amish windows do not have curtains or shutters, and Amish dolls do not have faces. An early equation between rigorous spiritual practice and a lack of adornment carried forward into his work. He considers his work contemplative. In recent years, his work has moved from Francis Bacon-like torture to George Bailey-like composure and Platonism. He tries to imbue his works with equal parts worried comedy and icy detachment, and to paint a universe in which the Divine light is a thousand fluorescent, unflattering bulbs.