Hello, I am David Murphy, previously known as Cypher or The Panic Artist. I am a forty-nine-year-old (b. 1971), Irish Expressionist/ Realist painter and writer living and working in Dublin, Ireland.
I have painted since before I can remember, but I have been painting seriously for thirty-nine years - and my surviving oeuvre contains thirty-three years' worth of paintings and drawings. The greatest artistic influences on my work have been; Gothic, Baroque, Realist, Expressionist, Neo-Expressionist and Outsider Art.
My artistic heroes are; Pablo Picasso, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Vincent van Gogh, Lucian Freud, Richard Gerstl, Egon Schiele, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Willem de Kooning and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
A list of my subjects would include; self-portrait busts, nude self-portraits, female nudes, kissing couples, erotic scenes, landscapes, gestural abstractions, abstract word paintings, text paintings and most controversially pornographic scenes including: fellatio, cunnilingus, intercourse and sodomy. My themes would include; madness, isolation, loneliness, voyeurism and mediated desire.
I have no formal qualifications and I am largely self-taught as an artist. My art education - such as it is - consisted of a series of night classes taken intermittently over the course of twenty years, from the age of thirteen to thirty-three (mostly with private tutors or in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin). As well as one ill-disciplined year in Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design from 1989-90 - where I was accepted on the basis of exceptional talent. But I got into trouble after a fight with a fellow pupil and then found my depression and social anxiety prevent me from preforming to the level I had hoped. So, I spent more time making my "real art" at home (including self-loathing, nude self-portraits and sinister erotic scenes) and thus failed my first year and was expelled. I realised that I did not give a dam about the pursuit of mere technical competency, theoretical posturing, faddish experimentation or indeed any form of academic or socially motivated art. For me art only had meaning as an expression of myself, as a form of existential questioning and ultimately as a form of therapy.
As an anarchistic, existential, expressionist, my work is also a rejection of every art world orthodoxy since the 1960s from; Marxism to Feminism, left-wing aesthetics, philosophy and politics, the dictatorship of linguistics, Neo-Academic Conceptual, Performance, Installation and New Media Art, factory and foundry made art, political correctness, artistic activism, progressive political art and totalitarian liberal group-think. Having grown up in a Republic of lies and being immersed for decades in the Idealistic fantasies of High Art, I do not give a damn how others want the world to be - I am only interested in what it is really like. Besides I have always been convinced that we were in the end of days and the rotten decadence of the world was the orgy before the apocalypse.
I am intoxicated by the expressive, evocative, poetic, and imaginative power of oils, watercolour, pastels, and traditional drawing techniques. Thus, my mediums are mostly defiantly old-fashioned; pencil, brush and ink, pastels, watercolours, alkyds, acrylics and oils and I use them in a manner the Expressionists over a hundred years ago would have recognised. What matters to me is individual creativity, personal vision and traditional qualities of craftsmanship, authenticity, necessity, and accountability. For me, an artwork is validated by its manual skill, emotional authenticity, originality, and transgressive power. However, I have had to fight tooth and nail, to express my own very private vision against artistic and social norms.
My work is an anti-social, solipsistic, explosion of uncensored desire, and unregulated emotion. I make art for me and me alone. My early life was fractured by, death, madness, hunger, perversion, unhappy love affairs, and virulent rejections from the art world – so my work inclines towards pessimistic nihilism. As a teenager, I suffered badly from an Oedipus complex (an inability to break my dependency on my mother) well in to my mid-twenties. And because of my traumatic childhood, I have an arrested development and care little about real adult life or the art game. My monastic and voyeuristic pornography and the extreme nature of my art is a result of my attempt to develop a language that could express; the pain I felt after being ravaged by childhood abuse, neglect and isolation, my alienation from humanity, my tortured masculinity and the apocalypse of my soul.
Because of my traumatic childhood - I withdrew into myself - and concentrated on my art to the exclusion of everything else. In compensation for my childhood misery – I developed a grandiose conception of myself as an exceptional artist - out of all proportion to my actual gifts. From a very early age, I learned how to dissociate myself from my mother, block her out and self-isolate. Later, I made an art of avoiding any contact with girls and lived my life outside looking perpetually down at the ground and always wore my Walkman to block out the sound of girls and other people. And to this day, I rarely leave my house and when I do, I avoid the gaze of everyone and treat everyone as a potential threat. As a result of my childhood, I have suffered from a borderline personality disorder, social anxiety, toxic shame, and chronically low self-esteem most of my life. I am narcissistic, introverted, reclusive, voyeuristic, and desperately shy. It was only in my mid-twenties that I began socialising, and promoters I befriended tried to get my work shown in art galleries. I managed to get a number of exhibitions - but collected many more rejections. After my mother’s death in 2009, and my subsequent grief and mental breakdown - I withdrew again from the world in order to preserve my sanity. I also gave up trying to achieve art world recognition. Having received over 99 rejections from art galleries and curators around the world - I stopped giving them the satisfaction of turning me down. So, I have not applied for a grant or approached a gallery or arts group since early 2011 and I have not attended any art opening since the start of 2017 and I only did then because my girlfriend Carol was in the exhibition. But despite my alienation, I continued to paint more than ever - if only as a form of delusional hobby and privileged therapy. As I aged, I became increasingly misanthropic, anti-social, nihilistic, and disgusted by the decadent, corrupt, manipulative, and hypocritical sham of the art world, contemporary art and its gang of hustlers, mercenaries, and imposters. I grew up worshipping art and thought that being an artist was the most noble profession in the world. I also foolishly thought women would love me for being an artist. But now I realise that the vast majority of people do not give a fuck about art - and most women only want rich, powerful brutes. Moreover, I too am now disgusted by art, and apart from a handful of Old and Modern Masters - I do not give a damn about ‘Art’. So, I want virtually nothing to do with the world - and have nothing to give it.
At heart, I am an expressionist artist; my art is the very opposite of 'arts for art’s sake', in fact I see no separation between my art and my life, both feed from each other to form a highly personal and autobiographical art. My approach to art is distinctly expressionist in character - my work tells stories about the human condition – which most can recognise and read – even if they cannot identify with it. Unlike other expressive painters whose expressionism is merely a form of stylistic filter they apply to anything and everything – my expressionism emanates from the subjects I paint - making it even more extreme. That is why, there is frequently a massive adrenaline drop in the intensity of my landscapes and still-lives, compared to my abstracts and female nudes, and especially my self-portraits and pornographic scenes.
Since my father died when I was six and a half and I was brought up by my narcissistic mother who suffered from grand mal epilepsy and paranoid-schizophrenia (and who was devoted and caring when well - but who terrorised me and physically and emotionally abused me when mentally ill) and virtually all my teachers, therapists and psychiatrists were women - I grew up with virtually no male role models. There are hardly any positive examples for mother/son relationships and plenty like Oedipus and Psycho that shame and terrify. Mother’s boys are considered by many to be sexless nice guys, pathetic hen-pecked wimps, and weirdos. But I felt I had no choice but to look after my mother because I knew we only had each other. All my life, I had known that I had been intellectually and psychologically fucked up by my mother. But it was only in September 2020, that I realised fully how much she had warped my sexuality as well. I was a victim of my mother’s enmeshment and covert incest. She prematurely awakened my sexuality and left me with deep feelings of shame and guilt. Moreover, she became for me a sexually terrorising demon and left me with a sexual dread of women, and fear of intimacy and love. Worse still, my development was arrested, and I never became the alpha male women desire. In fact, there were many painters who had close, intense, or difficult relationships with their mother’s like William Turner, Edward Vullard, Maurice Utrillo, Richard Gerstl, Egon Schiele, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, L. S. Lowry, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. However, my insanely oedipal relationship with my mother makes all the others seem banal and I am the only painter I know who was committed alongside his mother to a mental hospital! Moreover, I grew up having no idea whatsoever how to be a man - never mind an alpha male. So, when I was aged twenty-one and my second therapist gave me a personality test, she found, I had the lowest self-esteem of any client she had ever had. Numerous times when I was young I mutilated myself because of a verbal fight with a woman or tried to kill myself and I cannot even count the number of panic attacks I have had when women have flirted with me. Thus, my artistic rebellion was not against patriarchy – but rather smothering, controlling, judgemental, censoring, terrorising, and emasculating matriarchy! After my mother had viciously punished me for sexual misbehaviour and psychologically dominated me as a child, as well as jealously filled my head with poisonous ideas about the manipulative cruelty, seductive evil and sexual depravity of women – my pornographic art was a revolt against her psychotic puritan control yet also a subconscious projection of the negative vision of life she had instilled in me. On the other hand, I have always been in awe of women, put them on a pedestal, and always relied on their kindness to care for and protect me. Moreover, I loathe most men especially macho pricks.
My work was also a rebellion against the Nationalistic, Catholic, right-wing, provincial, and paternalistic Ireland - I grew up repressed under. At the time, Ireland was one of the most socially conservative nations in Western Europe and had moral restrictions on almost every aspect of life, the most draconian anti-sex legislation, and strictest censorship laws in the EU. Irish attitudes to sex were medieval in their morbid shame, hatred of the flesh and demonization of sexual women. Most people viewed porn as something mucky schoolboys and dirty old men in raincoats were into. And porn and sexually promiscuous women were reviled by the Irish press. Thus, my expressive and pornographic art - was my revenge upon childhood silencing, gaslighting, deceit and repression.
I started painting porn in late 1990, when I was still an untouched virgin who had never even been kissed, and my early work was a kind of self-critical proto-Incel art. I did not give a damn if boys my age had sex more than me, because I loathed macho boys and identified more with girls. But the sight of girls my age or younger in town or on Trash TV talk shows, live orgiastic lives crucified me, because I could not even compete with the supposedly innocent, chaste, virtuous, pure, and fairer sex. Brainwashed by a lifetime of looking at idealised and perfect images of women in fine art and the media and decades of feminist propaganda that blamed men for every evil in the world and claimed that women were completely blameless victims of men and incapable of evil themselves - I worshipped women’s beauty and moral perfection. But I despised myself, my looks and body. Finding men repugnant and their bodies revolting, hardly ever hearing any woman express any sexual desire for men and more often hearing women denigrating men sexually on TV, reading so much misandristic radical-feminist writing about how vile men were and being bombarded by decades of feminist inspired male bashing in the media – I was astonished women desired men - never mind wanted to have sex with them! Surely these girls should have wanted to be lesbians or not wanted sex with a man before marriage and only asexually endured intercourse with their future husbands to make babies? So, if even these vestal virgins had five, ten, a hundred times more sexual experience than me – it meant I must be a total loser gimp. And from my tragically pathetic failed attempts to chat girls up in Rock night clubs, I quickly realised they had no interest in anxious, gauche, self-loathing, omega males like me - and only wanted cool alpha male brutes. Highly romantic and idealistic, I found all my fantasies of a dream girl who would save me, crumble away - as I saw them one by one - with arrogant bad boys without any intelligence, culture, or sensitivity. So, I vowed to never approach them again and merely go to Rock clubs to let out my aggression moshing. I avoided looking at girls, and even when they invaded my space or sat beside me, darted flirtatious looks and flicked their hair, or pinched my bottom as I passed, or grinded on me on the dancefloor, or approached me - I ignored or rebuffed them. I was so shy around girls because their love and acceptance meant so much to me - I could not take their rejection. Already chronically depressed - I could not risk feeling suicidal if they humiliated me. Tortured by my virginity and unable to court or seduce a girl, I finally lost my virginity aged twenty-one in May 1992 to a prostitute in Amsterdam. However, after returning from my first trip to Amsterdam, I made the mistake of confessing what I had done to a female friend from Art College. And she was so appalled by me that I tried to kill myself again that night. From May 1992-January 1995, I visited Amsterdam four times, and had sex with thirty-nine different women and some of them half a dozen times. I even had my first kisses with prostitutes. Though I often found it difficult to get erect or cum because of my anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. Time and time again, these lovely women chided me “you think too much”, or “don’t fret so much!” These sisters of mercy saved my life, far more than any of the psychiatrists or psychotherapists I saw, electroconvulsive treatment I endured, or medication I took, after my nine suicide attempts around the same time. Yet, twice during 1993, girls made the first move and I had panic attacks and fled. Between the autumn of 1993 and the winter of 1994, I had a couple of male lovers but only because I was so lonely and terrified of women. But I remained sexually attracted only to women. But back in Rock night clubs, I continued to avoid women and their gaze. If a girl asked me to dance - I would refuse if I did not like the song and secretly hate their taste in music. Or if they dragged me up, I would dance looking down at the floor or with my eyes closed and walk off once the song ended. If they tried to chat me up, I would point to an even more depressed and lonely young man and suggest they talk to him. Meanwhile, a dream girl approached me in an art gallery, and I had the worst panic attack of my life as she tried to force me to talk to her and eventually I told her to “just fuck off”. Yet, months later she became friends with my ex Edward and I tried to befriend her hoping I could cure my terror of women. However, my terror never subsided, and after another miserable night with her – I slashed my arms with a kitchen knife and gave up on my experiment. Between the late spring on 1994, and the late autumn of 1995, I had a number of one night stands with alternative girls who told me I was “gorgeous” and all their friends fancied me – but I thought these girls had something wrong with them. Could they not see that I was an ugly piece of shit? But I only succeeded with these and other girls by becoming the dominate brut they wanted - and I never actually made love to any woman because that would have left me too vulnerable. I also made a close female friend whose female friend had approached me - which improved my self-esteem. But I still longed for a real girlfriend who loved and understood me. Finally, in the autumn of 1996, I met my first girlfriend and saviour Helen Black who also began bringing my art albums around galleries - but again to no avail. But after eight years she broke up with me. She could no longer live with my drug use, immaturity, depression, reclusiveness, poverty, and total dependence upon her. The other major reason Helen left me was that our sex life had fizzled out – largely due to my lack of interest and preference for porn. Thankfully, I had a second chance at love with my beloved Carol who I have been with for fifteen years. However, in the end, I realised that because of my abuse at the hands of my mother and subsequent borderline personality disorder - I was essentially a voyeur and I could not deal with women sexually - so I preferred to watch porn.
Time and again, women have accused me of hating women. Frankly, this has hurt me to the core. Because my life would have been a whole lot easier, if I really hated women, and ironically, I probably would have had more success with them! So, I have spent my life suffering conflicted feelings of romantic longing, love, awe, worship, desire, fear, and abject terror of women. I have treated women in my paintings, in a morally ambivalent manner, depicting them as stunningly beautiful or terrifyingly ugly according to my mood. Despite what my mother did to me, I loved and looked after her until the day she died, I have studied feminist texts since a teenager, as landlord I have lived happily with countless women in my home since the age of fifteen, had many close female friends and tried my best to be a good partner. But I am so mentally fucked-up by my childhood, that I have always been terrified of women and felt myself to be dirt in comparison.
So, I have used masturbation since my childhood and porn since my adult life to rid myself of desire for real women if only for a few hours. Porn for me, has always been a flight from real women. And because of my self-loathing, sexual inadequacy, castration complex, performance anxiety, terror of women and use of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, I have struggled with impotency my whole life. In fact, I have not had actual sex since the start of 2011, and frankly - I do not care if I ever have it again. Moreover, now as a middle-aged porn user, I often have porn induced impotency even when I wank. But I still paint porn, because painting porn for me - has always been about impotence.
Therefore, besides making abusive artworks of women, my oeuvre is far more notable for its male fragility, awe of women and its visual lexicon of male masochism in many of its forms. Including images of vulnerable male nudity, self-mutilation and self-castration; images of mutilated or castrated penises; countless images of mature dominate women; clothed females/naked male scenes; gangs of women with male strippers; women as aggressors, women screaming violently, forceful women kissing men, powerful women fucking men on top, weak men preforming cunnilingus; submissive men being pissed on by cruel women; subservient men licking women’s feet or shoes; and schizophrenogenic mothers, phallic mothers, dark mothers, femme fatales, pornographic goddesses, party girls, heart-breaking beauties, divine angels, dominatrixes and cuckoldresses. My oeuvre is a visual diary of my sexuality as it has gone through episodes of romantic idealism, lust, disgust, desire, fear, rage, longing, castration terror, shame, defiance, fantasies of masochistic submission and self-destruction, phallic power, cockiness, distress, and disillusionment. And although my artworks display some aggressive sex, it is nothing in comparison to what is out there in porn and there are no images of female abuse or rape and most of the violence in my art is directed toward myself. Personally, I like passionate and enthusiastic participation of women in my personal life, during sex, in porn and in the artworks I make. On the other hand, I have been a man in crisis my whole life and so I have tried to give shape to men’s primal fear of liberated, empowered and sexually voracious women as well as my own wounded masculinity.
Throughout my life, I have appalled many women and angered many men when I have told them that I paint pornographic paintings. Constantly, people who frankly suspect me of the worst kind of character, have demanded that I provide a justification for my art or asked me snide, loaded questions about my pornographic art. Such people cannot fathom why anyone would glorify such immoral people or have any interest in such trashy taboo imagery. I find it a pointless question to try to answer, because those who ask it – have already made up their minds on the basis of religious, aesthetic, Feminist or Liberal moral cant. And these self-righteous liars have no intention of being honest about their own sexuality or relationship to porn.
There is no one reason why I paint porn, my motivations are multi-faceted, and I may never know the real reason myself. Contrary to what most people would assume – I do not paint porn to shock - especially because I started painting porn long before I had any audience to shock and I hid them in portfolios the minute I had completed them. And frankly the skill, depth, complexity, and perseverance of my pornographic work is the best rebuke to that fatuous claim. I do not paint porn to make money or advance my career because I know my porn paintings are virtually unsaleable and are an anathema to Liberal/Feminist curators. Nor do I paint porn to arouse myself or others. Or to celebrate sexuality - in fact, sex for me is a horror. Moreover, hardly anything I have ever painted represented my real sex life – it merely recorded mass media porn images - I consumed and I was obsessed by (the exceptions were some quick sketches of myself with prostitutes and nudes of my lovers Edward, Helen and Carol). Just a few of the reasons I paint porn include; as a rage filled revolt against maternal domination and psychological castration; as an attempt to surmount my terror of women by painting them obsessively; as a form of cathartic exorcism; as a projection of my fears and container for my pain; as a perverse compensation for a fearful life of limited social contact, intimacy or love; as a metaphor for loneliness and alienation and the cruelty of existence; as projected self-portraits of myself as a sexual woman; as a tearing down of the theatrical walls of art to expose the obscenity of life; as a kind of visual, philosophical virtual-brothel; as a visual display of the erotic’s of agony; as a continuation of the erotic art of the likes of Pablo Picasso and Egon Schiele; as a supreme technical, intellectual and emotional challenge; as revenge upon the art world that rejected me; as a rebellion against the art market; as an assault on suffocating bourgeois good taste; as retribution against the idealism, fantasies and lies of High Art; as a rebuke to disinterested aesthetics and the reduction of art to mere techniques and faddish signature styles; as retaliation against the censorious humanitarian lies of the Liberal media and Feminist propaganda; and ultimately, as a symbol of my outsider and outcast status. Thus, in my pornographic paintings, I make the tragic erupt in obscene imagery and turn pornographic images into records of my state of mind.
As a contemporary painter of porn stars (the twenty-first century equivalent of Baudelaire’s whores) I am entranced by the pornographic 'frenzy of the visible'. Because as Baudelaire observed: “[The whore] is a perfect image of the savagery that lurks in the midst of civilisation. She has her own sort of beauty, which comes to her from Evil always devoid of spirituality… In that vast picture-gallery which is life in London or Paris, we shall meet with all the various types of fallen womanhood – of woman in revolt against society – at all levels… Some of these [whores], examples of an innocent and monstrous self-conceit, express in their faces and their bold, uplifted glances an obvious joy at being alive (and indeed, one wonders why). Sometimes, quite by chance, they achieve poses of a daring and nobility to enchant the most sensitive of sculptors, if the sculptors of today were sufficiently bold and imaginative to seize upon nobility wherever it was to be found, even in the mire… in a foggy, gilded chaos, whose very existence is unsuspected by the chaste and the poor, we assist at the Dervish dances of macabre nymphs and living dolls whose childish eyes betray a sinister glitter…” (Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, London: Phaidon, 1995, P. 36-38.) Those who attack me as a misogynistic artist unconcerned about the socio-political reasons behind the vulgar carnality of liberated women and porn stars - are missing the point of my art. My pornographic expressive and anti-social art is created to release my roiling feelings and unload my psychosexual pain into my artworks - without censorship and regardless what those responses are, without self-consciousness and without trying to please or accommodate anyone else. So of course, my pornographic and anti-social art is offensive to just about everybody - especially those people whose primary concern is the correct moral and ideological stance. That is why my work can simultaneously offend men and women, decadents and aesthetes, hedonists and puritans, misogynists and feminists, and pornographers and censors! Women are angered that I have revealed and glorified the sexual debauchery of some women and men are angered that I have exposed their primal fear of women and their resulting terrified denigrating of women if they are sexually free and empowered. More importantly, my work totally exposed the schizophrenic unreality of the ancient Madonna/whore complex and its even more unrealistic Feminist rewriting as the Madonna/Madonna forced by men to be a whore complex.
I had minor solo exhibitions in Dublin in a grotty media centre in 1994, in a shabby anarchist bookshop in 1996, and in a pub in 1997. Then in 2000 and 2002, I had two major shows in the Oisín Gallery in Dublin - but before and since I have had mostly rejections - many of them extremely disgusted and dismissive. And six of those rejections were from the Oisín Gallery who turned against my art once they found there was no market for it. Despite the initial pleasure of making money, being able to buy more art materials, pleasing my mother and proving my numerous critics wrong - in the long run my involvement with the Oisín Gallery proved to be the worst thing that had ever happened to me as an artist. I had spent my life fighting for my creative independence and I had done everything to preserve my authenticity. But getting involved with the Oisín Gallery resulted in my whole artistic identity being undermined. Constantly criticised for my extreme nude self-portraits and pornographic work and pressurised to paint commercial PG rated work - I underwent a chronic identity crisis. Yet even when I did try to please the gallery and my critics I failed. Despite finishing with the Oisín Gallery in late 2004, it took me a further three or four years before I recovered my artistic self-belief. Moreover, my brief few weeks of fame left me feeling deeply conflicted, dirty, and a sell-out. I was also disgusted with how many people’s (especially women’s) contempt for me and my art changed overnight when I had some success and sales, ex-girlfriends came out of the woodwork, and women flew around me like moths to a flame - for the first and only time in my life. However, the Oisín Gallery was just a commercial gallery that sold kitsch landscapes and no one in the Irish art world even considered it a proper gallery. So, the elite Irish art world refused to touch my art with a barge-pole.
My art has been attacked as adolescent, immature, revolting, insane, violent, ugly, sick, filth, stylistically inconsistent, obscene, degrading, sexist, misogynistic, exploitative, unacceptable, or simply not art. During my major exhibitions, I was scapegoated in the Irish press as sad sicko - as though I was the only man or woman in Ireland who had ever had sex never mind looked at porn. To make matters worse for my critics was the fact that I was plainly skilled enough to create beautiful conventional paintings - but I chose to use my talent to paint porn! Furthermore, when I have brought up my history of spiteful rejections in my writings – I have been told I have a persecution complex! Yet, they are only the rejections I have received from the art world. My life has been filled with people silently judging me, avoiding me, cross-examining me, projecting shame on me, ridiculing me or verbally attacking me because of my art. On the other hand, those who were fans of my art but did not know me personally, were disappointed, I was not the self-confident, dominate, alpha male super-predator they expected or desired. Moreover, very little written about me by others – friend or foe - has ever really given me any real insights into my art because most of it was a projection of the writers’ own issues. So, I am happier living alone with my beloved girlfriend Carol.
But since May 2000, I have sold over €61,266 worth of art. The highest price paid for one of my paintings was €10,792 (The Dialectic of Emotions 1995 - sold in the Oisín Gallery in November 2000.) The average price for one of my works has been around €550 - 1,500. However, of all my sales, only two were for hardcore pornographic works, the previously mentioned large oil painting The Dialectic of Emotions from 1995 and the Indian ink drawing Numbing My Ego from 1997 for €450. My art is in corporate and private collections in America, Ireland, England and Australia.
Because of my borderline personality disorder, my vision of myself as an artist is extremely unstable and I can wildly swing from thinking I am the greatest artist the world has ever seen - to thinking I am the most sick, delusional and talentless man to ever call himself an artist in the space a few minutes. And often I just feel a terrible sense of emptiness and worthlessness. My BPD provokes me to have a very extreme and dystopia vision of the world - which is made manifest in my traumatic and cognitively dissonant artworks. My art is notable for both its erotic and confessional mania. Because of my BPD my work is characterised by breaks in style and subject matter and shifts from figuration to abstraction - that do not follow the usual linear chronology of conventional oeuvres. My artworks swing wildly between extremely repressed and impersonal - to aggressive, suicidal and confessional. In the space of a few weeks, I have gone from painting realistically to expressionistically to abstractly and even conceptually. Because my emotions and thoughts are so erratic and fleeting, I prefer to work on small-scale works on paper rather than on large laborious canvases. And it is in my works on paper - that my true personality is revealed the most. While painting any subject, but in particular in self-portraits, female portraits and nudes and pornographic scenes - my vision, emotional attitude and perception of the subject can swing from love to hate to indifference and then back to love and hate again in the space of a few hours. I paint in tidal waves of creativity followed by equally intense periods of creative drought and despair. I have changed style constantly and frequently had stylistic identity crises. At my most artistically uninspired, I have often adopted the style of artists who I hero worshipped like; Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Egon Schiele, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel and descended into visual plagiarism and pastiche. My artistic vision has gone from fanatically grandiose to self-loathing and defeatist and back again to fanatically grandiose depending on my mood. I have painted and drawn the most conventional and safe subjects but also the most extreme subjects from pornography and childbirth to violent boxing and UFC fights. I have continuously made confessional or sexual artworks fearlessly - but later felt mortified by them. And I have constantly confessed my sins and expressed my toxic shame and guilt in my art. Since I feared I would be rejected anyway by the art world, I have often painted porn to further alienate people and confirm my rejection or I have even made artworks in which I explicitly told the art world I fucking hated it! I have painted in joyful and ecstatic frenzies but also in bitter shameful despair. At the age of twenty, I changed my name to Cypher to signify my loss of self and at my most depressed, self-loathing and hopeless my work was often noticeable for its repressed and impersonal style. But I also have painted myself attempting self-mutilation to try to unload my pain into paint. I have often painted realistic images - only to vandalise them mid-way through - because I despaired at my lack of talent and skill. I have frequently worked my artworks all over signifying my pre-psychotic fear of a horror vacui. I have frequently made artworks that expressed an extremely black and white vision of the world in which I either loved or hated women or I was either cock happy or impotent or where people were either beautiful or ugly and where my art was either priceless or worthlessness. Or I have regressed into conventional realist artworks when I have lost my self-belief and have been desperate to be accepted by art lovers. In my extreme periods of emotional distress my work has looked paranoid or I have painted myself as a child as I did in works from 2009. At my most paranoid and fearful I have made most of my abstract artworks - hoping that I could sublimate and disguise the issues behind my trauma. I have also been angered at my lack of artistic recognition and been convinced that there was a conspiracy against my art. Thus, for viewers, my artworks have often been painfully emotional, distressing and frightening to contemplate. My art has looked like it has come from some terrifying parallel universe and it was extremely difficult for viewers to empathise with me or understand what I was trying to say with my art. So, most art lovers have written me off as a deranged maniac making filthy images - who’s compulsive, purging therapy artwork was worthless rubbish. As for myself, I have swung between being incredibly proud of my oeuvre and being ashamed and bitterly disappointed by it. Because of my BPD, I have intensely identified with all kinds of artistic, philosophical and sexual ideas - but I have also just as passionately later refuted them. I have also gone from adoring art to hating it. And even girlfriends, family members or friends who have known me for years have said that they do not understand me or my art.
To date my oeuvre contains over 4,540 paintings (acrylics, watercolours, oils, alkyds, mixed-media, collages, pastels or gouaches – mostly on 140lb/300gsm watercolour paper) and over 3,028 drawings (pencil, ink, coloured pencils, chalks, or charcoal – mostly on 140lb/300gsm watercolour paper.) I have also produced 4 sculptures, 27 mono-prints, 13 scrapbooks with examples of art I admire and 71 notebooks with over 3,350 sketches. I have also taken thousands of documentary and family photographs, but I do not consider myself a photographer. I am merely a documenter of my own life and working practices. My surviving oeuvre represents only those works that have survived my own self-critical destruction. On average, I have destroyed about 20% of my initial artwork production. All my works including my mono-prints are handmade, unique, one-off pieces - made entirely by myself without assistants or technicians and with the best artist quality materials. However, of 4,540 paintings only around 260 or about 6.3% of them are on canvas, board or found objects - the rest were painted on watercolour paper. My lack of a studio and storage space, poverty, marginalization and my excessive creativity has forced me to work mostly on paper.
Drawing is the most creative, pure and direct medium amongst all the visual arts, flowing from the artists hand and revelling its life force on the paper. Paper is not simply a screen on which an artist works – it is an active participant in the creative process. Ironically, I forced my personal tragedy upon paper and expressed most of my artistic and sexual muscle and wounded machismo on humble sheets of paper. I am a connoisseur of the finest papers and many cheap ones as well. Every kind of paper has its own qualities and I have worked on Daler Rowney cartridge paper, Daler Rowney, Canson and Fabriano pastel paper, Sennelier pastel card, Arches oil paper, Cotman, Bockingford, Fabriano, Arches and Moulin de Plombie watercolour paper, as well as Indian Khadi cotton rag and Nepalese vegetable paper. Many of these papers when placed against the light revealed a watermark. But I also worked on thick sheets of acetate with permanent markers, my own photographs, porn magazine pages, reproductions of World War Two maps, reproductions of vintage newspaper sheets, pages from books like ones on de Sade or women’s sexual fantasies, reproductions of erotic prints, CD album pages, photographs, exhibition invitation cards, commercial advertisements, psychiatric medical packaging, photocopies, wallpaper and fancy papers. But usually, I coated these commercial lower grade papers with a layer of acrylic matt varnish with UV protection to help preserve them. I have also made use of various mediums on paper (individually or in combination) like; pencil, coloured pencils, Conté, Indian ink, permanent markers, gouache, watercolour, acrylic, alkyd, oil, oil-stick or spray-paint.
Self-loathing and ashamed of my limited ability, between 1987 and late 1990, I would square up photographs and work intensively on them in pencil on cheap cartridge paper, before transferring them to canvas or expensive watercolour paper to complete the artwork. Then between late 1990 and early 2003, I often used acetate tracings I had taken from video screen stills on my TV in order to speed up my drawing process and conceal the effort that had gone into making my artworks. So, what appeared to be spontaneous and expressive works were in fact often highly considered. And from 1987-1995, I often painted in multiple layers of acrylic, alkyd or oil paint with each layer correcting the previous one. As such my rapid development occurred not only in painting by painting but in paint layer by paint layer. However, in late 2003, I swore off all forms of tracing – believing that the honesty of my art depended upon an approach that was as direct and spontaneous as possible. So, since late 2003 I rarely use tracing, squaring up or projecting of images. It means that when I draw - I hardly ever use an eraser. If I make a mistake in my drawings - I either over draw the corrections or rip up the sheet. In my paintings, I mostly paint in an 'alla-prima' manner rarely using glazes and limiting the number of layers I apply. This approach means that my work has a freshness lacking in the work of other painters. However, it also means that my paintings often have a rather clumsy naïve quality - the result of my technical limitations and the demands I make upon myself to work without a safety net.
Because I am terrified of criticism and embarrassed by praise, chronically shy and loath most interactions with real people, about 80% of my work has been based upon photographs - of which about 75% were found in the media. Even if I had the money to hire models to paint or photograph, I would not do it. I do not want any involvement whatsoever with who I paint and do not do commissions. I am so introverted that I have preferred to work indoors, under artificial light, at night, from; newspaper and magazine clippings, black and white photographs of classical sculptures, movie stills, television screen grabs, glamour photographs, images lifted from pornographic magazines and videos, anatomy prints, vintage erotica, postcards, reproductions of artworks, internet JPGs, sports action shots, web pages, children’s books, family photos, personally taken photographs of myself and friends and scenes from my holidays. I use these sources as a way of reacting to and commenting on the world without participating in it.
Yet, while these various forms of photographic sources provided the starting point for my work, their real subject was my own expressive manipulation of paint - used to express my anxiety. Unlike most of my contemporaries who use photographs to critique photography and express alienation - I use photographs as a pretext for my own subjective responses. Like a dark poet of reality - I remake familiar images - turning them into revelations of self. I turn the objective images of photo derived media and make them subjective expressions of my own anguished vision. While most of the photographs I use - were taken by people who had at least an indirect relationship with the people and places they photographed - my relationship is only with the resulting image. Moreover, as an introvert, fearful of real involvement with the world and as a voyeur who takes the most pleasure in just looking – I am happy with this lack of real involvement. However, I maybe nothing but a voyeur - but I turn the viewers of my art into voyeurs twice over.
Since the invention of European prints in the late fifteenth century, Western artists have used woodcuts, engravings and etchings of masterworks - as aids in their depiction of landscapes, architectural details and group compositions. In Western oil painting - minor artists imitated the compositions and poses that the old masters had invented – often with little alteration. Since the seventeenth century, artists have used camera obscura devices to help them deal with perspective and since the late nineteenth century, artists like Manet and Degas have used photographs in their paintings. In fact, the pictorial grammar of cropped shots which painters like Degas exploited where influenced by early photography. The conservative art critic Robert Hughes was no fan of artists using photography and mass media as inspiration for their work but even he had to concede that: “There is scarcely an important artist of the past hundred years around whom a book could not be spun, and a show constructed, with the title “Fred X and Photography””. (Robert Hughes, Horrible!, The Guardian, August, 2008.)
At one time or another; Gustave Courbet, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Walter Sickert, Henri Rousseau, Maurice Utrillo, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, George Bellows, Francis Picabia, Bernard Buffet, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Leon Golub, Gerhard Richter, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Betty Tomkins, Malcolm Morley, Henry Darger, Richard Artschwager, Anslem Kiefer, Eric Fischl, David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Martin Kippenberger, Luc Tuymans, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Glen Brown, John Currin, Zhang Xiaogang, Richard Prince, Elizabeth Peyton and Karen Kilimnik and Chantal Joffe (to name just a few important painters) have created paintings and artworks based on mass media images. So, it is not unusual for me to have done so too. To that list one can add; Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Eduard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Wilhelm Leibl, Franz von Lenbach, Franz von Stuck, Fernand Khnopff, Max Libermann, Max von Slevogt, Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Moreau, James Ensor, Pierre Bonnard, Thomas Eakins, George Hendrik Breitner, Maurice Denis, Eduard Vuillard, Félix Vallotton, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Balthus, Frida Kahlo, Richard Estes, Chuck Close, Vija Celmins, Gerhard Richter, Anslem Kiefer, Eric Fischl, David Salle, Luc Tuymans, Jeff Koons and Jenny Saville who used photographs they took of models in order to aid their paintings. All these artists proved that it is the interpretation of such images - that makes them different from mere student copying. Moreover, one hundred different artists could take the same photograph and make one hundred totally different paintings from it! And frankly, I could take the same photo and make many different versions of it over the course of my life!
Yet in the past, artists have proved highly deceptive about their use of photography. Fearful that their art’s value and originality would be called into question, they have often destroyed their source material after use and made no mention of it in interviews. Others made a habit of admitting their use of photography, however coyly pretending they used many photos as source material and destroying those specific photos they actually depended upon. Personally, I destroy most of my photographic sources at the completion of a work – a ceremony signalling I can do no more. However, I make no secret of my use of photographic material.
As Baudelaire has pointed out, photography can poison vision. It records reality, but lacks an imaginative component, and as Gary Indiana has commented “the camera cannot lie, but it also cannot tell the truth.” (Gary Indiana, “Report from Paris,” Art in America, May 1984, P. 36.) When painting from life I do not feel any need to do anything but record what is in front of me. However, when working from photographs I feel compelled to ramp up the intensity of line, colour and texture to make it more a work of my own. I do not copy photographs - I interpret them! The shock of my work is that I take ‘objective’ mechanical and electronic images – often of the most extreme kind - and personalized them. I use them as props, which I manipulated visually to express my individual moods and reactions to such imagery. This was a pre-condition I set on all my ‘copies’ from photographs from 1987 onwards. I do not slavishly stick to the photographic image as Photorealists do (my alkyd painting Country Road, 1988, based on a photograph my father had taken, was one of the few notable examples of dispassionate copying in my oeuvre.)
Photographs allow me greater freedom in how I chose to treat a subject without the pressure to flatter a sitter or create a good likeness in their view. In most cases, I correct or deconstruct the image in order to create something entirely different. I typically choose emotive subjects - photographed in off-hand, banal, mediocre ways and give them a much bolder and aggressive stylization. The pose of the model and the composition is all I retain. I completely transform the colouring, crop the image, and infect it with my own linear and expressionist treatment.
Moreover, I do not use found photographs out of an inability to create images of my own. I make collages, which create different kinds of visual connections. I paint abstracts based on nothing but my own sketches. I create surreal images from my imagination. I work from my memory. I work from my dreams and nightmares. Finally, since 1989, I have periodically made many studies from life in all kinds of mediums.
If you want consistency in an artist, you will never find it in my work. Most artists only ever do one thing. My art is not dependent upon a single style or manner. It has many strands. Taking my art as a totality - does not mean that it is all of equal value. There are major works but there are also many minor works of lesser value. However, the cumulative effect gets more powerful the more I produce and the more I complicate things. I work in conceptually based series, in which I adopt a particular style, medium and subject that I then pursue through dozens of paintings and drawings. The core of my art can roughly be derived into seven major periods;
1. 1987-1990 - My Black Paintings Period. Although, I had painted before I could ever remember, it was only in 1987, that I left school to become an artist. After being soundly rejected for application to NCAD (my first of four times) I destroyed all my amateur work from 1980-1986. Trying to make myself seem like a prodigy, in January 1987, I started backdating my artworks by a few months. Thinking I was destined to be one of the greatest artists who had ever lived, I began painting influenced by Rembrandt, Ingres, Degas, Schiele, and Picasso. I retreated into my bedroom, to run-away from my deranged mother, the terrifying presence of girls and an adult world I could not deal with. I dropped out of life and escaped into an imaginary world of artistic glory, masturbation, and sexual fantasy. In the spring of 1988, I discovered the early child prodigy artworks of Picasso and realised, I would never beat him. So, I began to back date my work by up to a year and half, to make myself look more precocious. When I finally revealed this deadly secret to my therapist in January 1993, I tried to kill myself. But when I survived, I stopped back dating my work. The surfaces of my Black Paintings were so thickly lacquered with paint, that they formed an impervious air-tight surface that mirrored my repressed, reclusive, and anti-social existence. In addition, there were my classical drawings, which displayed a strong linear style, with bold outlines and sharp contrasts of tone. These mute and repressed drawings also mirrored my own selectively mute and shut in nature at the time and there was barely any emotional spillage in these frozen, almost robotic drawings. During 1990, I struggled to break free of my rigid linear drawing and dark pallet. I tried to make my paintings more expressive, colourful and transfuse my roiling emotions into pigment. As a result, many of my works of 1990 dismally failed - though I did create a few works that I could build upon in the following year. Even at this early stage, my work was notable for its confessional and erotic mania. The subject matter of my work from 1987-1990, included nude self-portraits and nude self-portraits masturbating, as well as tormented erotic scenes, female portraits, female nudes and my first drawings based on pornographic source material.
2. 1991-1995 – My Panic Art Period. When, I was intensely lonely, tortured by my sexual inadequacy, suicidal, and suffered from an agonising borderline personality disorder - after years of living self-isolated in my bedroom. I painted for years in solitude, mapping my inner existential inferno with a trail of agonised paintings and projected my sexual terror of women onto huge pornographic canvases. In many ways, my early work was a form of proto-Incel art. My Panic paintings were explosive expressionist paintings made up of angular shapes, simplified drawing, bold juxtapositions of contrasting colours (red and green or orange and blue) frenzied brushstrokes and jammed with text and diagrams. I was influenced by Richard Gerstl, Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel amongst many others. In April 1991, I began signing my work 'Cypher' as a sign of my alienation and to break free of my domineering mother by creating an alter-ego that defied her and all her values. Also, by naming myself ‘Cypher’ I announced to all those with eyes to see - that I knew I was an artist of no importance and a man of no social prestige or influence, living in a Godless universe without meaning. I would only revert to my real name in February 2009 after my mother's death. When I had been in Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design in 1990, a girl in my class had made a large phallus with a woman riding ecstatically on top of it. Not only did her sculpture make me feel inadequate, it also represented a joyful image of sex I could not relate to. So, in 1992, I made numerous images of phalluses being cut with razor blades or penetrated by pins or nails. And all my self-portraits and porn images at the time expressed my self-loathing sexual frustration. From June 1990 to September 1993, was my most authentic ‘Outsider’ period when I created my art in insane solitude for my own personal reasons and without any audience or critics. From 1991-1995, was also the period during which I created virtually all my large-scale works - because I spent most of my modest inheritance from my father’s death on the best quality artist materials and large French linen canvases. My work included suicidal nude self-portraits, nude self-portraits masturbating and nude self-portraits mutilating myself, as well as pornographic scenes, anguished female nudes, my first abstracts and a growing number of autobiographical text-based works. Meanwhile, tortured by my virginity and unable to court or seduce a girl, I finally lost my virginity aged twenty-one in May 1992 to a prostitute in Amsterdam. From May 1992-January 1995, I visited Amsterdam four times, and had sex with thirty-nine different women and some of them half a dozen times. Between the autumn of 1993 and the winter of 1994, I had a couple of male lovers but only because I was so lonely and terrified of women. But I remained sexually attracted only to women. Then between the late spring on 1994, and the late autumn of 1995, I had a number of one night stands with alternative girls.
3. 1996-2000 – My Delayed-Adolescent Period. During which, I broke free from my mother and lived in my late twenties, the teenage years I had sacrificed for my art. I had my first girlfriend and saviour Helen Black with whom I enjoyed a full sex life and a growing circle of friends. I spent more time than ever in the past –socialising, drinking, drug taking, fucking and having debauched nights in clubs and house parties. Sick of risking my life for my art (which everyone hated) I made a conscious decision to try to be happy regardless of how it affected my art. Besides, my anguished and lonely, proto-Incel art made no sense once I had a freed myself from my mother and had a girlfriend who loved me and sexually satisfied me. So, all of this, and my growing maturity, challenged my self-created solipsistic adolescent universe and fanatical artistic focus. It was also a period when lack of money for art materials, drove me to spend more time writing than painting - and arguably my writing, diminished my creativity and ability to emote on canvas. Thus, my artworks began to be more about the expression of ideas rather than raw emotion. There was also was a lowering of ambition, imaginative levels, and seriousness in my work from 1996-2000. Struggling to make sense of my new life and creating under the influence of hashish, ecstasy, and Outsider Art, I made even more insane and transgressive looking works to overcompensate for my lack of feeling or belief. My work at the time was jammed with text, diagrams, and abstract smears of pure colour straight from the tube, often on ready-made supports such as pornographic magazine pages, photographs, and reproductions of war maps. I even ransacked paintings and furniture, that had graced Tara my mother and father’s house in Howth, and had been the site of my worst abuse and trauma at the hands of my deranged mother - after my father’s death. My subjects included pornographic cartoons and paintings, insane drug induced collages, symbolic abstracts, acetate based nude self-portraits and orgy scenes. However, by 1998 at the age of twenty-seven, my fanatical belief in my art had been lost because of the evaporation of my adolescent vision, my lack of success as an artist and my bitter study of art criticism and pessimistic philosophy. Thus, my artworks of 1998 declared my hatred of art. My work lost its explosive solipsistic intensity of expression and became more impersonal, distanced, ironic, cynical, and Post-Modern as my work became more and more influenced by Julian Schnabel.
4. 2001-2004 – My Identity Crisis Period. Which was brought on by my two exhibitions in the Oisín Gallery in Dublin in 2000 and 2002, during which I was castigated from nearly all sides. In short, critics admired my talent - but thought I was a sick misogynist. I also had to endure constant criticism from my dealers and pressure to make PG-rated, commercial, conservative illustrative work. Which led me to have the most desperate identity crisis of my career. I lost direction and self-belief as an artist and would spend the next five years trying to re-build myself as an artist. My subjects included figurative and text paintings damning the Irish art world, male and female academic studies, self-portrait busts, landscapes, soft-core female nudes and pornographic drawings and paintings - all painted under the delirious influence of hashish. These works were often of student quality - due to my intensive rebuilding of my technique. In mid-2004, my first girlfriend Helen ended our relationship - leaving me distraught and forced to rebuild my life again. At the end, Helen observed that the work I had done while we were together from late 1996 to mid-2004, was nothing compared to the work I had done when isolated, tortured by sexual inadequacy and suicidal. And I knew she was right. Meanwhile, I gradually lost touch with most of my old friends.
5. 2005-Mid-2007 - The Carol Stevens Period. Saw the start of my re-birth as an artist through the influence of my beloved second girlfriend and greatest muse Carol Stevens. Realising, that as an artist I had gained little from friendships, contact with an art gallery, socialising or debauchery, I vowed to live alone with Carol and concentrate fully on my art, the way I had in my early twenties. Apart from online fans, most of whom never seemed real to me, Carol became virtually my only artistic audience, and I trusted her opinion, more than anyone I had ever known. She encouraged me to explore less extreme sexual images, more mature and subtle styles, and avoid the obvious adolescent crassness of my early work. So, over twice as much of my work from 2005-2016 were non-pornographic even conventional subjects as my work from 1987-2004. We also spent a lot of our time going to art exhibitions and I wrote an art blog about our trips – which helped to codify my ideas about art.
6. Late 2007-2018– My Purple Period. It was notable for my frequent use of purples, violets, mauves and pinks. My extraordinary use of purple was a symbolic manifestation of my dreadful pride and self-sufficiency, borderline personality disorder, persecution complex, paranoia, and cannabis induced psychosis. It was also a totemistic attempt to find obsessive-compulsive safety from complete mental breakdown - in a consistent pallet of purple. My Purple Period was full of threatening and doom-laden images - made even more so by my purple pallet. I did not always use purple in my paintings of this period, but it was the dominant colour and reoccurred again and again at my lowest ebbs. Between late-2007 and mid-2017, my art possessed greater maturity, painterly-application and refinement of style. And I painted with more intensity, consistency and thoughtfulness than I ever had - even in my explosive Panic Art Period of 1991-1993. In terms of pure craft and technical mastery - I reached the height of my powers in my forties. I also began to paint far more from within myself and transform my artistic influences into artworks that could only have been made by me. Meanwhile, between late-2007 and mid-2013, Carol studied Fine Art in NCAD first to gain a Degree and then a Masters. Not only did her youthful exploration of creativity re-light my fire as an artist and give me a cherished companion whom I could talk to intensively about art and show my work to, she also gave me access to the NCAD library where I devoured books on Neo-Expressionism and Expressionism. At the start of 2009, my mother died, and I suffered the worst nervous breakdown of my life. I only survived because of the love and support of Carol. As well as experiencing extreme grief - I also found all the memories and feelings I had suppressed about my childhood overwhelm me. This was compounded by my cannabis induced psychosis. So, my work from 2009-2016 was consumed by feelings of grief, guilt, shame, anger, and despair. The 7th February 2009 also saw me return to signing my paintings ‘David Murphy’. Late in 2009, I quit drugs and drink but continued to chain smoke. My subjects included guilt ridden female nudes, paintings of my mother’s funeral, landscapes and town scenes from my mother’s old Polaroid's, drippy portraits of famous writers and philosophers I admired, drawings and watercolours of Greco-Roman sculptures, paintings of myself from my memory or imagination, insane collages and frenzied abstractions. Yet, despite painting far more acceptable subject matter – my art was filled with grief, trauma and nihilism and was no more appealing than my earlier pornographic art. Then in late 2011, after trying for years to suppress my interest in sexual themes in my art and only becoming even more conflicted, distressed and self-loathing - I returned to painting erotic scenes, paintings of webcam women, expressive and unrepentant pornographic paintings, overlapping pornographic drawings and paintings, torn, collaged or over-painted drawings and nihilistic collages. My return to pornographic imagery was also a nihilistic recognition that I was doomed to never be accepted by the art world – but I vowed to paint with the freedom of the damned. My new pornographic work was notable for an improved technique, greater sophistication and tragic melancholy.
7. 2019-2020 – My Castration Complex Period. On Sunday 3ed March 2019, I saw the documentary Young Picasso: Exhibition on Screen in the Pavilion Theatre Dun Laoghaire. Afterwards, I wrote a long blog about Picasso and his brothel painting Les Demoiselle d’Avignon. For a few years leading up to writing My Foolish and Tragic War with the Young Picasso, I had suffered from porn induced erectile disfunction. I had been familiar with Sigmund Freud’s castration complex theory since a teenager - but I had never believed it – perhaps because I could not admit it to myself. So, while I understood formally how Picasso had painted these women and how Les Demoiselle d’Avignon gave birth to Cubism, I did not know why Picasso had painted these whores in such a frightening manner. But, suddenly in middle age, it all became viscerally clear to me! Les Demoiselle d’Avignon was all about Picasso’s fear of insatiable women and his own castration! For the next year, I studied texts about many men’s fear of women, shameful impotence, and terror of castration. I suddenly realised that the misogyny and sexism of men, which I had never understood, was based not on hate - but fear and inadequacy! I also looked in depth at Picasso’s late erotic artworks, of brazen female nudes and copulating couples - paradoxically made in rage and rebellion - against the impotence that traumatised him in old age. In my own artworks, I cut up many images I had painstakingly created - as a symbol of my impotence, self-loathing, nihilism, and contempt for Fine Art. Then in the early hours of Thursday 13th August 2020, I wanked to so-called ‘cuckold’ porn - while I listened to a podcast about such lifestyles. And I suddenly realised what was happening in these videos. Probably because for once it was the man being humiliated, heartbroken and psychologically destroyed and not the woman - I empathetically broke down - and had my worst psychotic episode in nine years.But I had suddenly learned why I painted porn. It was not because I was macho predator or potential rapist. It was because, I had been psychologically destroyed by my mother, I was terrified of empowered, sexually insatiable and demanding women, riddled with sexual inadequacy and anxiety, traumatised by my impotence and fear of castration - and trying to overcompensate in paint. In the small oil paintings, I made after this, I depicted shrivelled, impotent penises, and portraits of myself as an abused child.