AboutIce. The symbolic associations with simple frozen water are various. Unlike fire, however, its metaphorical complement on the other end of the temperature scale, the notions conjured up with ice are traditionally disturbing or negative, a curiosity so obvious that it is generally left unrecognized.
The Irish-American painter Colette Murphy speaks in analogies, parables and symbols. As a result, her representational often figurative painting is laden with meaning, usually subtle, often unexpected, always ambiguous but compelling.
In White Elephant, her second solo exhibition, at the Emerson Gallery Berlin, Murphy turns her attention to an exploration of the notions associated with the confrontation of massive blocks of ice, icebergs, presented devoid of their usual context at the polar caps.
Given the popular attention in the media linking icebergs to the controversy surrounding climate change and global warming, the viewer's first glance of Murphy's work might confine interpretation of the paintings to the obvious ecological issues of the value and power of pristine nature. The exhibition's title and an unsettling work, Summit, an iceberg densely populated with neatly posed soldiers, both puncture and complicate the possibilty of a simple understanding of these paintings, however.
In the end, Murphy's paintings remain enigmatic, leaving the viewer to contemplate their sheer aesthetic value as painting, line, color and composition. Raw brown burlap contrasts starkly with the cold, slick subject matter of the work, for instance. Even as a single, convincing meaning of her work remains elusive, the viewer is aware of the secret of the layered significance of Colette Murphy's painted scenes: the critical precision of an artist's icy gaze.
Duration of the exhibition: 15 March to 19 April 2014
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 2:00 7:00 pm, Saturday 12:00 4:00 pm and by appointment
With an expression of gratitude to THE CORPORATE SUPPORTERS PROGRAM.