at Lago Vista Gallery at Richland College
by Todd Camplin

Richland College has some interesting spaces for artists to display their work. Shayne Murphy meets some
of the challenges the College provides with an energetic installation and selection of traditional oil
paintings. Murphy’s show titled “Transient Space,” does what the title proclaims; he creates pictures
of abstract non-places.
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I enjoy how Murphy plays with abstract geometric and organic forms that interact with realistic
renderings of figures. His imagined worlds act as obstacles that challenge his figures. Because of
these implied struggles, stories or narratives start to emerge. His painting “Collapse” shows a
woman dangling over an infinite pit of geometric one-point perspective space while holding
onto a broken ladder like structure. The extreme angle would make for a dramatic fall, but his
painting of the woman implies her determination not to drop into the abyss. Murphy’s painting
“Collapse” reminds one of video games. The background uses simple shapes like 1980’s Atari
games, while the woman look like something made with the best CGI. His woman is painted
in such a way that Murphy avoids the Uncanny Valley in more ways than one.
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Murphy is showing a lot of stage craft in his composition. The use of depth is well constructed with
his over lapping of objects and figures, scale shifts, and the strong emphasis on depth through the
use of perspective. The colors are a bit muted and the figures sometimes are obscured with shapes.
A bit like his colleague at UNT, Ben Terry or the UNT professor Matthew Bourbon; Murphy adds mystery
and interest through this obfuscation. I find his poses of the figures also hides the face which makes
reading their emotions a lot more challenging. And speaking of color, pink seems to be Murphy’s
theme, because in many of the works, the dominant color is pink or at least it seems to have an
important role. Pink hasn’t always been taken seriously, unless you are talking about Philip Guston.
I would say that Murphy is using pink with a similar degree of skill as Guston.
Oil and graphite on canvas, 55″x70″

The show will be up until October 21 in the Lago Vista Gallery at Richland College.  Another interesting
show that is coming up is works by John Penny. His work will be up next week on September 13th
in the Brazos Gallery until September 28th. And while you are at the college, be sure to wonder around
the art department. You never know, but you might run into work by the next up and
coming artist.
Oil on canvas, 60″x48″.