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Wil Murray


'THE ONLYES POWER IS NO POWER' is Canadian Berlin-based Wil Murray’s third solo exhibition with the gallery and presents a new large-scale print series, which uses a hybrid of photography and painting to highlight the role of time and substance within a journey. In these new works Murray paints directly onto the photographic negative, allowing this mark to evolve, form and ‘black out’ within the process of exposure and development.

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Murray’s practice explores journeys as transformative mechanisms, exploring how meaning changes as an object moves from one point to another. THE ONLYES POWER IS NO POWER examines the geographic, historical and personal overlap between the trajectories of Hoffman’s Novelty Circus, a circus run by Murray’s family that toured each summer through Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia from 1933 to 1943, and the deployment of Japanese Fu-Go “balloon bombs”, over one hundred of which fell on the Canadian prairies between 1944 and 1945. The title of the series and exhibition is a quotation from Russell Hoban’s post nuclear-apocalyptic novel Riddley Walker.

Over the past year, Murray has conducted archival and interview-based research on these two themes. Based on this research, he mapped a circuit of locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan where the circus had performed and a Fu-go bomb had subsequently fallen. He photographed landscapes at these locations on two separate trips, first in summer when the circus toured, and then in the winter when the bombs had fallen. Each location was photographed twice on 4x5 large-format colour film, with the negatives partially masked, in camera, by a black paint stroke. These paint strokes leave a portion of the negative unexposed during each exposure, this portion is “filled in” by the other exposure. Once developed, additional strokes are painted on the surface of the negative. The completed image thus depicts two separate landscapes, and two seasons, in a single image mediated by paint strokes.

For the exhibition, the artist proof of each photograph is installed in the unique vitrine exhibition space and black paint strokes are painted on the facing window. The arcs of the shadows of the black paint strokes move across the works as the sun moves through the sky, altering the works composition. They add shadow forms into the composition and mediate the potential effect of the light on the shielded and exposed sections of the print. The exhibition space is transformed into an experimental camera, pushing Murray’s transformative process further.

THE ONLYES POWER IS NO POWER is exhibited at VITRINE following its first presentation at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Canada, in the 2017 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Selected press

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Wil Murray (b.1978, Calgary, Canada) lives and works between Berlin and Calgary. His work was included in the Alberta Biennal in 2015 and 2017, he received an honourable mention in the prestigious RBC Canadian Painting Competition and his work was featured in the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art’s 2008 exhibition for national top-painters ‘Carte Blanche Vol. 2’.

Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘SPRAY CAN SEA, OOH BARED ASS, VET HER’, Jarvis Hall Fine Art, Calgary, CA (2016); ‘The Enemies of the Novel’, Back Gallery Project, Vancouver (2015); ‘On Invasive Species and In delity’, The Art Gallery of Alberta, CA (2015); ‘Please Boss Remember Me’, VITRINE, London (2014); ‘Die Welt In Farben’ P|M Gallery, Toronto (2014); ‘Painted Shut’, VITRINE, London (2013); ‘Maintain The Ruin’, P|M Gallery, Toronto (2012); ‘Modulations’, Library Cote-St.Luc, Montreal (2012); and ‘Last Summer I Build A 1:8 Scale Model of Your Vagina’, Staatsgalerie Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin (2011).

Selected group shows include: ‘A Journey from a sweeping gesture to a lasting effect’, VITRINE, Basel, CH (2016); ‘NOT A PHOTO’, The Hole, New York City, USA (2015); ‘Sought’ at Jarvis Hall Fine Art, Calgary, CA (2015); ‘Art in the Home 2’, Contemporary Arts Society, York, UK (2014); ‘The Combinational’, Studio 1.1, London (2014); ‘The Painting Project’, GALERIE DE L’UQAM in Montreal, CA (2013); ‘Made in Alberta Part IV’, The Art Gallery of Calgary, CA (2013); ‘XSTRACTION’, The Hole, New York, USA (2013) and ‘Broadcast, Funkhaus Nalepastrasse, Berline, DE (2012).

Murray had a solo booth in ‘Dialogues’ Art Projects, London Art Fair (2015); has been shown at Papier Art Fair (2013); Art MRKT Fair (2013); Art Toronto (2013/2015); and The Manchester Contemporary (2013 and 2017).

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