|Thursday, May 31, 2001|
Reviewed: Drawing From Mosaics, John Philip Murray, Guinness Gallery, Foxrock, until June 10th
John Philip Murray's Drawing From Mosaics at the Guinness Gallery takes as its starting point the remains of Roman mosaics in Tunisia. The paintings - they are paintings drawn from mosaics rather than drawings from mosaics - describe the way the brilliant light turns sections of mosaic grids into dazzling, iridescent surfaces, anchored by darker bands of border tiles and interrupted by the enigmatic presence of fragmentary human heads, portrait subjects including, apparently, Virgil.
By noting the beauty of these venerable surfaces with what come across as references to contemporary abstraction, Murray could be commenting on the endurance of aesthetic concerns. By contrast, the human presence flits across and is gone. The point is underlined in a good triptych of three head studies in which we can never quite settle on the features depicted, although there is a sense of human presence in each.