The Globe and Mail: Weekend Review, Arts

Gary Michael Dault

The Globe and Mail


The pleasures afforded by the landscape paintings of Halifax-based artist Ivan Murphy are gentle, careful ones. Murphy is not a flashy painter and he eschews large effects, taking as his providence the subtleties of paint handling that make for the incarnating in his pictures of weathers, moods, atmospheres, a feeling for air temperature and times of day. 

I like his deliberately undramatic views and pedestrian vistas; shorelines with telephone poles, low-slung industrial buildings seen from afar across dispiriting open lands, and so on. In the end, you get the impression, however, that Murphy's's subject matter is simply an excuse for applying paint to canvas— which he does with considerable brio. The best way to look at his paintings is to get up close to them— about 8 cm from their surfaces. From this vantage point, Murphy's world becomes one of thick, buttery strokes of pigment, almost edible in their icing-like opulence. And then there's all that lovely seductive color.