Wednesday, 3 August 2011

'The Shape of Days', Serge Murphy at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada

An intriguing exhibition of found sculpture is currently being exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada, until 2nd October 2011. These are new abstract works and the first solo exhibition in a Montreal museum by Murphy. The walls display a multitude of statuettes made from wood, cardboard, paint, string and all kinds of wire and set on little shelves like 'knick-knacks' or holy icons.
 Serge Murphy, 'La Forme' Séquence 2, found media, 2011
Photo: Pascal Grandmaison
“It’s called 'La forme des jours' because these sculptures represent the passage of time, of days. In my work there’s always a relationship to time, it’s almost a material for me. I work in my studio every day, it’s a constant in my life. Making sculpture is a task that obsesses me,and it’s time consuming work. My relationship to reality is sublimated, transcended by this activity, by this daily use of my hands. It’s what gives shape to my days. Sometimes a simple shape, sometimes an excessive one, a shape that comes into my head or emerges under my hands. Sculpting is looking for shapes that resemble us...I construct as I improvise and I improvise as I construct, in a mixture of calculated gestures and experiments. I create associations of images that in my mind refer to people, to landscapes, to moments,to myself, to abstraction…”

Despite its make shift, do-it-yourself appearance, Murphy’s art harks back to the historical phenomenon of the cabinet of curiosities or the 'Wunderkammer' of the Renaissance, but re-orienting it to the opposite of the conventional definition of a treasure or wonder, to encompass humble, fragile little objects of no apparent aesthetic value, shabby scrap. 
Serge Murphy, 'La Forme' Séquence 3, found media, 2011
Photo: Pascal Grandmaison
“Shabby materials are living materials. They don’t foist themselves upon us, they are unassuming but they communicate something intense. They are easily accessible and just as easily modifiable. In the work of some tinkerers, there is a surrealism, a freedom to put together found objects and manufactured ones, which I find sympathetic. But I don’t have their artlessness and besides, my work invokes the history of the art of sculpture!”

Serge Murphy, born in Montreal in 1953, is not only a prolific sculptorbut also a video artist and a poet. His collection of poems La vie quotidienne est éternelle was published in 2010 by Éditions de l’Hexagone. In 2007, he was awarded the prestigious OziasLeduc Prize from the Fondation Émile-Nelligan.


  1. In this work I find the randomly-encountered becomes personal and meaningful.

  2. yes, simple yet grand statements..