“You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretences of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world.”
Octave Mirbeau, ‘The Mission’, Chapter 8, The Torture Garden, 1899.
Hello, my name is David Murphy. I am a fifty-year-old (b. 1971) Irish hardcore 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 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. My father suddenly died when I was six and a half, and my narcissistic mother had a complete nervous breakdown. For the rest of her life, she suffered from grand mal epilepsy and paranoid-schizophrenia. As a teenager, I suffered badly from an Oedipus complex (an inability to break my dependency on my mother) well into my mid-twenties. I was nearly completely silent about what was happening to me from the age of six and a half, until I first tried to kill myself at twenty. At the time, I had no idea how I had turned out the way I had, or why I wanted to die so much. I did not even have the language to express how I felt. But I realised my secrets were killing me like a poison, and since then I have never been able to shut up! The only things that made me cry for help, during my multiple suicide attempts between October 1991 and January 1994, was cowardice and my deluded artistic ambition.
As a result of my childhood, I have suffered from a borderline personality disorder, social anxiety, gynophobia, toxic shame, and chronically low self-esteem most of my life. Because of my incurable borderline personality disorder, I am very intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically disturbed. I suffer constant bouts of rage followed by shame and this is reflected in my artworks. I suffer almost hourly swings from elation to despair, grandiosity to self-loathing, horniness to shame, and creativity to emptiness - and then back again. It is frankly exhausting, and my emotions are a chaotic hourly helter-skelter! It also means that I do not have a consistent artistic style, and even many of my individual artworks contain cognitive dissonance. My partner Carol calls me a binge painter. I can spend weeks depressed and unable to even draw a stick figure. I even begin to think I have lost whatever talent I have - and I will never be able to make art again. So, I just read art books, write, and look at art and porn for subjects to inspire me. Then suddenly without thinking, I make dozens of artworks in the space of a few weeks - in a state of unconscious bliss. I am never happier than when I am painting, and I am in the flow – it is better than drugs or sex! After which, I am plunged back again into despair and research.
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. My signature and the date of my work is signed strikingly in large capital letters in the corner of nearly all my paintings and drawings - a sign of my huge ego and need for recognition. But also, a signal that I had completed the work to my satisfaction.
My art and writing are both forms of nihilistic polemic. I am completely alien to art history and there are few artists with whom I can even be compared. Perversely, although I make erotic and pornographic art – I am influenced by hardly any erotic or pornographic art, because with a few exceptions like Schiele and Picasso I find such work kitsch, simplistic and technically sub-standard. On the other hand, although I am stylistically influenced by many expressive artists, my content is derived from hardcore pornography, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and alternative music. The nearest artist to me was the equally transgressive, alienated, and unique Egon Schiele. Although artists from the 1990’s played games with pornography and told jokes about sex - only I fully embodied porn, pathologized it, and thus made it even more extreme.
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, 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 do not have a single qualification to my name, and I am largely self-taught as an artist and entirely self-taught as a writer and intellectual. 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 between 1983-85, or in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin between 1992-1994 and 2003-2004). 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 and safe from comparison or criticism. The subjects I painted at home included self-loathing, nude self-portraits, and sinister erotic scenes. Thus, barely attending Art College, I dismally failed my first year and I was expelled. But I realised that I did not give a damn 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. Kicked out of art college, I vowed to become a great artist almost as an act of revenge.
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 groupthink. Having grown up in a Republic of lies, been lied to constantly by mother and other adults, having my abuse minimised and excused, 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. In a world glutted with fake people, positive-thinking, virtue signalling, and commercial hype – I make an art of abject self-loathing, catastrophic honesty, and nihilism. Besides, I have always been convinced that we were in the end of days, and the intellectual bankruptcy, moral degeneracy, and rotten decadence of the Western world - was the last 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.
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 several 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 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 partner Carol was in the exhibition. Nor have I asked a single art world person to come and view my artwork in my house since the end of March 2007. Carol is the only person in real life I show my work to. But despite my alienation, I continue to paint more than ever with the freedom of the damned - if only as a form of delusional hobby and privileged therapy.
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. I am remorselessly self-critical, and my work is obsessed with the 'self' and the 'other' represented by the world. The fiction of me as a primitive outcast exploding with painterly rage, remorse, and anguish fuels my art and forms its identity.
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 and perverted men.
As a contemporary painter of porn stars (the twenty-first century mediated 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 psychotic 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 of 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!
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 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, a sell-out and media whore. I was revolted by the sight of myself on TV and my name in print. I was also disgusted with how many people’s (especially women’s) contempt for me and my art suddenly 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 in a way they never had before. However, the Oisín Gallery was just a commercial gallery that sold kitsch landscapes, that appealed to the totally uninitiated and uneducated art public - but not remotely to connoisseurs, critics, art students or bohemian contemporary artists. So, no one in the real Irish art world even considered it a proper gallery and they refused to touch my art with a bargepole.
Yet since May 2000, I have sold over €61,766 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. My art is in corporate and private collections in America, Ireland, England, and Australia. 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. In 2005, I also received €1,400 in for the film option rights to my autobiography The Panic Artist. But the option expired, and the film was never made.
To date my oeuvre contains over 4,648 paintings (acrylics, watercolours, oils, alkyds, mixed-media, collages, pastels, or gouaches – mostly on 140lb/300gsm watercolour paper) and over 3,271 drawings (pencil, ink, coloured pencils, chalks, charcoal, or permanent markers – mostly on 140lb/300gsm watercolour paper.) I have also produced 4 sculptures, 27 mono-prints, 14 scrapbooks with examples of art I admire and 75 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 4,648 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 revealing 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, Nepalese vegetable paper and Canson The Wall marker 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 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.
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. But when I had my first interview with the Head of Fine Art in NCAD in January 1987, I was castigated for my use of photography. It remained a point of contestation in my head for the rest of my life, as I learned not only how many artists had also used photography but also how so many others lied through their teeth about their use of photography. 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. Like a dark poet of reality, I remake familiar images, turning them into revelations of myself and my anguished vision.
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.)
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. And even when I have tried to be my most academic, disciplined and ‘objective’ – my pathological anxiety has seeped into the facture of the painting.
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. However, despite my many attempts to draw or paint from life, I have found my exposure to the world and other people, has overwhelmed me with performance anxiety, agoraphobia, and social phobia. Which has meant I have frequently only produced very superficial sketch like work and retreated quickly back into my solitude.
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. The core of my art can roughly be divided 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, my dreams of artistic glory received a crushing blow, when 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 blackness of my paintings at the time, were an expression of my depression and self-hate, which also warped and deformed my technical ability and limited my artistic vision. 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. Tormented Lovers of late 1990, was perhaps my most import early erotic artwork. I took a kitsch, hippie, illustration of a couple embracing in a sex manual, and turned it into a demonic expression of my fear of women, fear of intimacy, and performance anxiety. Even at this early stage, my work was notable for its confessional and erotic mania and gynophobia. 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, gynophobic, suicidal, tortured by my sexual inadequacy, and suffered from an agonising borderline personality disorder – compounded by 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 shock me because it was such an uncritical anti-Feminist celebration of cock, it also made me feel inadequate, and it 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 Post-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. My work from 1996-2004, became fatally self-conscious, deadpan, and performative. Aware for the first time of people’s reactions to my art, it turned from a confession into a coded performance. 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 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 the petit-bourgeois 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, straight-faced, 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. As an artist I lost self-belief, inspiration, courage, and direction, and I 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. 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. Carol also encouraged me to explore less hardcore and more varied imagery, so over twice as much of my work from 2005-2016 were non-pornographic even conventional subjects as my work from 1987-2004.
6. Late 2007-2018– My Purple Period. It was notable for my frequent use of purples, violets, mauves, and pinks. I was intoxicated by the magical power, intensity, and sincerity of the colour purple. My extraordinary use of purple was a symbolic manifestation of my paranoid psychosis, dreadful pride and self-sufficiency, borderline personality disorder and persecution complex. 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’. For the next few years, I frequently painted my mother from my memory, imagination, and old family photos – as though I did not want to let her go. 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, 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. 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. When I returned to painting erotica and then porn in the mid-summer of 2012, I avoided the transgressive extremes and perversions of my early pornographic paintings - because that no longer interested me. My late porn paintings, were more ellagic and tragically melancholy, and far more a celebration of female beauty and sexiness.
7. 2019-2021 - My Castration Complex Period. Between 2019-2020, I studied and wrote about Picasso and in particular his brothel painting Les Demoiselle d’Avignon. At the time, I suffered from porn induced erectile disfunction, compounded by my depression, toxic shame, performance anxiety, use of anti-depressants, chain smoking, and unhealthy lifestyle. 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, for the first time, I understood that 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! 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. In the autumn of 2020, I became obsessed and deeply traumatised by ‘cuckold’ porn. I had seen a lot of porn in my life, but this struck me as the most psychologically fucked up thing I had ever seen. Probably because for once it was the masochistic husband being humiliated, heartbroken and psychologically destroyed and not the woman. In the small oil paintings I made after this, I depicted shrivelled, impotent penises, and portraits of myself as an abused child. A couple of months later, I made a series of Cuck Fear cartoon drawings which helped me to therapeutically work through my issues. The following May, I made my ‘The Female Gaze’ drawings and paintings which depicted entranced women gazing at men masturbating with huge cocks on social media. The Female Gaze artworks were an extension of my Incel inspired Chad and Nigel cartoons of late 2018, and my Cuck Fear cartoons of late 2020. Because they depicted alpha males with huge cocks hypnotising horny women with their massive erections. They also went right back to my first artworks of women leering at male strippers from the spring of 1991 summer of 1993. They were a direct attack on the late 1970s Feminist idea of the ‘male gaze’, which transferred the blame from women who acted up sexually, to men who look at them, denied the reality of female voyeurism, and was a gross simplification of male/female desire which I had dissected in my writing. The Female Gaze artworks also played in again, to my fears of sexual inadequacy as a man, and fear of sexually voracious women. In mid-2021, I began a series of self-portraits of myself as teenager and young man, expressing my self-loathing at the time and describing my first times with prostitutes in Amsterdam. These artworks were technically easy for me to make, but they were psychologically traumatic, because I had to relive some of the saddest moments in my life.