self-portrait, confessional art, shock art, shocking art, contemporary art, contemporary painting, curator, art collector, visual art, art journal, art lover, kunst

“You are forced to pretend outward respect for people and institutions which you find ridiculous… You remain cowardly attached to moral or social conventions you despise, condemn and which you know lack all foundation... It’s the permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires on the one hand and all the dead forms and vain phantoms of your civilization on the other that makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality because every moment the free play of your strength is restrained, impeded and checked. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world.”
Octave Mirbeau, My Mission, Chapter 8, Torture Garden, 1899. Suffolk: Dedalus. 2019, P. 94-95.

“by the madness which interrupts it, a work of art opens a void, a moment of silence, a question without answer, provokes a breach without reconciliation where the world is forced to question itself… Henceforth, and through the mediation of madness, it is the world that becomes culpable… in relation to the work of art; it is now… obliged to order itself by its language, compelled by it to a task of recognition, of reparation, to the task of restoring reason from that unreason and to that unreason… The moment when, together, the work of art and madness are born and fulfilled is the beginning of the time when the world finds itself arraigned by that work of art and responsible before it for what it is.”
Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization, New York: Vintage Books, 1973, P. 288-289.

"That is why Van Gogh died suicided, because it was the concerted awareness of society as a whole that could bear him no longer… Besides, one does not commit suicide alone. No one was ever born alone. Nor has anyone died alone. But, in the case of suicide, a whole army of evil beings is needed to force the body to perform the unnatural act of depriving itself of its own life.”
Antonin Artuad, 'Van Gogh The Man Suicided by Society', Artaud Anthology, Ed. Jack Hirschman, 1965, P161-162.

Hello, my name is David Murphy. I am a fifty-three-year-old (b. 1971) isolated, Irish, hardcore expressionist/realist painter, and writer, living and working in Dublin, Ireland. I have never sought to shock people with my art, rather I have sought understanding. However, I am an outcast of the art world and reluctant outsider artist. I have painted since before I can remember, but I have been painting seriously for forty-three years - and my surviving oeuvre contains thirty-seven years worth of paintings and drawings. The greatest artistic influences on my work have been Gothic, Baroque, Romantic, Realist, Expressionist, Neo-Expressionist, and Outsider Art.

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. However, I paint porn only to project my loneliness, sadness, thwarted desire, and psychosexual despair onto these transgressive images. My pornographic paintings are subversive art, made on the margins of society. My themes would include madness, abandonment, isolation, loneliness, voyeurism, and mediated desire. 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 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 scandal, illegitimacy, death, maternal madness, disassociation, panic attacks, self-loathing, loneliness, anguish, hunger, perversion, constant rejections from women, 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 malignant narcissistic mother had a complete nervous breakdown. For the rest of her life, she suffered from grand mal epilepsy, and paranoid-schizophrenia. My mother was a pathological liar, highly manipulative, domineering, and extremely violent. From the age of eight until the age of fourteen, my mother viciously emotionally and physically abused me. I also had to care for her, and save her life on numerous occasions, and my heart was broken seeing my mother have repeated epileptic fits, starve herself to death, suffer through migraines, and rant and rave. My early experience of living with my tyrannical and demonic mentally ill mother forever warped my sexuality. Because of what my mentally ill mother did to me, I came to associate love with pain, and associate women not with maternal affection, gentility, or tenderness - but torment, terror, humiliation and hurt.

Unfortunately, I am a mentally ill painter who has failed because I thought I was a genius, I did not work hard enough at my art, I lacked the common humanity great art requires, and my personality was mangled by child abuse and a resulting quite borderline personality disorder.

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 spent my abused childhood and traumatic teenage years, biting my tongue, afraid to anger my mother, or my foster families, and disassociating myself from the world. 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, why I hated myself and life so much, or why I wanted to die. I did not even have the language to express how I felt. My first psychiatrist wrote in her report in October 1991, that I was “difficult to have empathy with”. All my life, I felt like a total outsider looking in at the world. And I even felt a stranger to myself. The only things that made me cry for help, during my multiple suicide attempts between October 1991 and January 1994, was my sudden mood swings, cowardice, and deluded artistic ambition. 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. I realised my secrets were killing me like a poison, and since then I have never been able to shut up!

Not only was I was brought up isolated and alone, by my violently mentally ill mother, virtually all my teachers, therapists and psychiatrists were women – so I grew up with virtually no male role models. I grew up having no idea whatsoever how to be a man - never mind an alpha male. 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 we only had each other. 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.

My work was a rebellion against the Nationalistic, Catholic, right-wing, provincial, and paternalistic Ireland - I grew up repressed under. I loathed the complacent conservatism of the Irish art world, conformism of Irish society, and conspiracy of silence that surrounded sex in Ireland. Living in Ireland in the 1980s and early 1990s, was like living in a time warp in which the Irish were living in the 1950s - while the rest of Europe and America were living in the late twentieth century. Political, economic, social, sexual, and artistic revolutions that were taken for granted in the rest of the West were still treated like abominable evils in Ireland. Growing up in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s, I was a surrounding by an extremely negative culture of religious intolerance and bigotry; social begrudgery, and poisonous envy; artistically backward ignorance and stupidity; and sexual repression, prudery, and hypocrisy.

As I have mentioned, as a result of my childhood, I have an incurable mental illness, and the best I can do is manage my condition. But until my late twenties, I had no insight into my condition, self-awareness, or understanding of how disturbed I was. Because I was never given a diagnosis, and I had to use the Freedom of Information Act to access my psychiatric files, to find out that I had a borderline personality disorder. Since then I have spent decades studying my condition in psychiatric and psychological manuals, and online. Unfortunately, as a high functioning sufferer of BPD, people often do not think there is anything wrong with me, they think I am attention seeking - and so they are horrified when they see my art.

Living with borderline personality disorder is often a living hell. 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. In many ways, my entire oeuvre has been a relentless process of self-interrogation, manic confession, self-exposure, self-trashing, self-mortification, and self-flagellation. I am a confession machine! I have also suffered from intense love-shyness, gynophobia, toxic shame, chronically low self-esteem, and masochism most of my life. 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!

I live with a constant identity crisis, which I have often tried to escape by overidentifying with my artistic heroes, but it has often resulted in me merely pastiching, conceptually tracing, and plagiarising their work. I am emotionally disturbed, immature, hypersexual, and I have an acute persecution complex. I also have an eating disorder and sleep disorder. My disturbing self-loathing is evident in much of my art - even if it is not immediately evident in me personally. I have a fractured, and distorted sense of self, which is reflected in my constantly changing artistic styles. Not only do I not have a consistent artistic style - even many of my individual artworks contain cognitive dissonance. So, my oeuvre is almost as stylistically varied as Picasso, and even more stylistically diverse than painters like Francis Picabia, Sigmar Polke, and Julian Schnabel.

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. Due to my borderline personality disorder, I aesthetically swing wildly from a love of the expressive and instinctive to the traditional and academic. 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.

Due to my disassociation from my thoughts, feelings, memories, and identity, because of my childhood abuse, which I suffered through in silence, and which resulted in my borderline personality disorder, I often do not know what I am feeling as I make my artworks, and often I have no idea what their artistic or emotional meaning is after I have made them! 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, my 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.

Because of my childhood, I also suffer from an avoidant personality disorder, vulnerable narcissistic personality disorder, and an acute obsessive-compulsive disorder. My OCD resulted in my obsession with artistic productivity, and vain attempts to beat Picasso’s prodigiousness and productivity; my obsession with collecting as many books and catalogues on Picasso, Schiele, Basquiat, and Schnabel as I could afford, and my constant counting up of their oeuvres; my sexual OCD and constant self-comforting masturbation followed by intense shame and guilt, and which was triggered by my mother’s flirting with me, sexual exposure, sexual punishment, and physical abuse; and my confessional obsession which was a result of my moral scrupulosity OCD.

I had my first panic attacks as a child, and constantly as a teenager, but I had so many of them, I did not know that they were abnormal. In my twenties, my panic attacks became even worse, especially when girls tried to chat with me - or even worse if girls flirted with me. I frankly preferred girls to avoid me, or hate my rudeness - than desire me. Yet, alone in my bedroom/studio, I was consumed by romantic and sexual fantasises. Until the age of twenty-one, I was merely friendly to women, but I avoided them like the plague in the Rock Clubs where I regularly went to let off my despair dancing ecstatically, or letting off my rage moshing. Then I had my first kisses and sex with prostitutes in Amsterdam - because I could not approach normal women, due to my horrific fear of rejection. During my three trips alone to Amsterdam in 1992-3, I was frankly happier than I had ever been, because I was free from the need to find a girlfriend. It was the beautiful sisters of mercy in Amsterdam who saved my life. Later, I spent a few years pretending to myself I was gay, because I found love in the arms of my first boyfriend, and because it relieved me of the anguish of heterosexual desire - and my fear of women. I called myself The Panic Artist not only as a comment on Post-Modern cultural panic, but also as a personal confession.

I do not have a single qualification to my name, I have never had a real job, and I am largely self-taught as an artist, and entirely self-taught as a writer and intellectual. I started reading art history books aged ten, as well as practical guides to drawing and painting materials and techniques. From the age of ten, I was frequently truant from school, and I would got to my local library to read books, or to the National Gallery of Ireland where I looked at the paintings and drew from them. Later, in my teenage years, I would bunk off school, and go to the Hugh Lane Gallery, or around the private galleries in Dublin.

My formal 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 fifteen (1983-1985), I learned to paint in watercolours and oils with private tutors, then from my early twenties I did life drawing and painting classes in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin between 1992-1994 and 2003-2004. I also attended life-drawing sessions in the City Arts Centre and Trinty College.

Moreover, I had one ill-disciplined year in Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design from 1989-90, where I was accepted based on exceptional talent. But my depression and social anxiety prevented me from preforming to the level I had hoped. Frankly, I was torn between staying in the safety of my bedroom/studio, lost in my own fantasy world, or attending Art College merely to prove to my family that I was not a deluded waster. So, I was a lazy and detached student in Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, and I worked harder on my personal and private painting at home than the rote dross I did in Art College. The subjects I painted at home included self-loathing, nude self-portraits, and sinister erotic scenes. For a totally deluded young man, who thought he was a child prodigy, and the second coming of Pablo Picasso, it was humiliating to realise I could not even compete with my mediocre classmates in the backwater of Dublin in 1989 - never mind the young Picasso!

Then I got into trouble after a physical fight with another young man in my year. Meanwhile, I was so ashamed of my shyness, naivety, and virginity amongst so many girls with older boyfriends, who boasted about their drunken escapades, that I pretended that I had a girlfriend studying art history in Trinity College! Thus, barely attending Art College, I dismally failed my first year and I was expelled. My mother frantically phone the principal of Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design asking them to give me another chance but he declared “We don’t want bedroom artists in our Art College! We want artists that can take their place in the real world!” However, 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 a personal expression of myself, as a form of therapy, and an existential questioning of life. Kicked out of art college, I vowed to become a great artist almost as an act of revenge.

When I tried to get back into art college in early June 1993, one of my applications to the Dublin Institute of Technology, College of Marketing Art and Design was rejected, and they told my mother that my work was “the most violent and pornographic they had ever seen”. By then it was my fourth rejection from a Dublin Art College. I subsequently tried to kill myself twice by overdose a few weeks later. Other submissions I made to the National College of Art and Design in 1994 and 2004 were also rejected. My constant rejections from Dublin Art Colleges increased my derangement.

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, careerism, 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.

The artists I value the most are those that have dealt with the human condition. 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.

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.

Since the age of sixteen, I have only ever used artist quality materials, even though they cost more than twice the price of student materials. I have a romantic relationship to my art and materials, with is an expression of myself and my talent with all their flaws. 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, skill, authenticity, necessity, and accountability. For me, an artwork is validated by its manual skill, emotional authenticity, originality, and transgressive power. As such I am virulently anti-Modernist. However, I have had to fight tooth and nail, to express my own very private vision against artistic and social norms.

All my life I suffered from bouts of chronic depression and disturbing lack of self-confidence. My mother's early constant belittling of my art, my families opposition and hostility to me becoming an artist, and my mother's destruction of some of my drawings when I was twelve, made me hide my art under my bed for most of my teenage years. Apart from my few applications to Art Colleges - I hardly showed my art to anyone. As I painted more and more personal, confessional, and sexual work, I became even more paranoid and fearful. Moreover, my fear of people, and terror of rejection, not only prevented me trying to court women, it also prevented me showing my art to other people.

It was only in my early twenties, when I began socialising with fringe members of the Dublin art world, that some championed my art, and they brought it around art galleries on my behalf. However, my work was constantly rejected. Moreover, like with women, I preferred to alienate art world people, than actually try to persuade or charm them. Later, my first girlfriend Helen, would also bring photo albums of my art around art galleries for me. They eventually managed to get me several exhibitions - but I collected many more rejections. Later, I went twice to London and applied to four art galleries only to be rejected by them all. My constant rejections from almost everyone in the art world was soul destroying.

So, 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. 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.

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 loathe the theme parks art galleries have become, their hypocritical political-correctness, their virtue signalling, and their total commercialism. Contemporary art today is so rigged, and it ‘standards’ so arbitrary, ambiguous and contradictory - that almost any claim can be made for the politically-correct elect and almost any denigration levelled at those deemed unworthy and deplorable. Thus, success in art today, is usually the triumph of con-artists in a totally corrupt contest - whose rules are constantly changing to suit the mob or the élite.

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 everything is 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. My paintings are an example of unfettered creativity made selfishly without the restraints of Art Colleges, galleries, curators, or critics.

My work is an art of absolute freedom. I have a voracious desire to analyse and reanalyse, cast and recast the world in one style and medium after another. This is not art as a profession - it is art as a way of life. Consequently, I have been criticized for; the varying degrees of conviction in my paintings and my stylistic promiscuity, it has even been suggested that I am too playful, and not serious enough about my development of a mature signature style - nothing could be further from the truth. I am deathly serious about my art.

To date my oeuvre contains over 4,922 paintings (acrylics, watercolours, oils, alkyds, mixed-media, collages, pastels, or gouaches – mostly on 140lb/300gsm watercolour paper) and over 3,505 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, 15 scrapbooks with examples of art I admire and 78 notebooks with over 3,500 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.

Given the Romantic, expressive, experimental approach I take to drawing and painting, I edit my output a lot - especially as I grow older. 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 artworks 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 4,921 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. Even though such works usually only attract specialist collectors since buyers usually look for major statements on canvas or in bronze. I find paper a finer, more delicate support for painting – which comes with less baggage and expectations - though I have often used the best quality paper money can buy. The sheer variety of papers available also allows me to adjust the ground I draw and paint on and the nature of the finished work.

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. It is also the cheapest medium which many artists have resorted to in periods of poverty. And because it is the cheapest medium it also allows the artist the greatest experimentation and risk taking, because a failure is of no financial consequence. 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; Winsor & Newton acrylic paper; Arches oil paper, Fabriano oil paper, Winsor & Newton oil paper; Cotman, Langton, Bockingford, Fabriano, Arches, Clarefontaine, Saunders Waterford watercolour paper, and Moulin de Plombie watercolour paper; as well as Indian Khadi cotton rag; Nepalese vegetable paper; Canson The Wall marker paper; and Clarefontaine multi-media 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. My favourite drawing medium for the past few decades, has been brush and Indian ink because it allows me to be totally spontaneous and my line to flow freely. However, it took me decades of drawing to achieve such freedom with brush and ink.

As a weak and helpless child, I watched my mother go insane from a safe distance. I became totally passive and voyeuristic, and I was constantly on the alert for danger not only from my mother but other women and men. Looking on at the world from a safe distance became an obsession for me. I lived my life looking at art in books, women in porn, and the horrors of the world on the news. 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 most of my self-portraits were made from Polaroid’s, video-stills, photographs, and JPEGs, because I did not like looking at myself in the mirror, I found it tedious, and disliked the limited number of expressions I could capture looking in a mirror.

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 used photography but also how many lied through their teeth about their use of photography! The revulsion of so many artists towards photography, was not only because photography had made the visual documentation of life in paint irrelevant, and many of them unemployable, photography had also exposed the idealism, and fantasies of art. 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. I deliberately choose to mostly work from anonymous, artless, snap-shot photographs, and I avoid women in fashion or hair styles that are too specify to a given period, because I seek a more timeless quality. 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.

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.) For me, photography could not depict the monstrous and suicidal self-hatred I had, or the toxic mixture of lust and fear that liberated women or pornography inspired in me. 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. Perversely, I have always painted from photographs like I was painting from life. 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.) 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.

My monastic, shut-in, 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 art and writing are both forms of nihilistic polemic. A puritan pornographer, I am completely alien to art history, and there are few artists with whom I can even be compared. Most of my pornographic, erotic, and pathological artworks subliminally reveal my traumatic and repressed childhood. They are certainly not the work of an oversexed sensualist, or predator, in fact they express the obsessions of a deeply repressed and inhibited man. My tragic pornographic paintings were the work of a disappointed idealist, romantic, and sentimentalist. My brooding obsessional pornographic, erotic, and pathological art is entirely circumscribed by my fears and anxiety. I make my porn paintings for my own satisfaction and therapeutic catharsis - not for public exhibition.

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.

Paradoxically, I have always been abjectly ashamed of my sexuality and my pornographic art has been a grandiose attempt to overcompensate for my guilt, shame, and repression. I am a puritan pornographer - painting the unpaintable. I always believed that I had to sacrifice my life for my art. And that meant staying at home all the time, painting as much as I could, and spending every spare penny on my art materials and art books. The more I limited my life outside, the more exceptionally intense my art became. So, the less I lived, the lonelier I became, the more I pined for love, the less I fucked in real life - the more powerful and intense my pornographic paintings became. Moreover, I have only been able to produce such a mass of pornographic artworks, because I have spent extraordinarily little of my life chasing young women, socialising with them, and even less time having sex with them. For me, porn is far cheaper, less emotionally damaging, and less time consuming than getting involved with most real women.

Therefore, besides making extreme artworks of women, my oeuvre is far more notable for its awe and terror of women, male fragility, and its visual lexicon of male passivity, submission, and masochism in its many forms. For example in 1991, I often alluded to myself as a eunuch, and entitled several paintings ‘eunuch’, my work also featured images of auto-castration, as well as symbolism redolent of a castration complex - which reflected my sexually repressed nature.

Throughout my oeuvre there have been; images of mutilated or castrated penises; countless images of mature dominant women; skinny young men with voluptuous older women; manifestations of the female gaze; clothed females/naked male scenes; gangs of women leering at male strippers; women giving blowjobs to 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, psychotic bad boy aping liberated women, 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 women being physically abused or raped, 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. It is in fact one of the first things I honestly and directly tell people - along with all the other dreadful things about me. I have experienced this moral outrage not only from narrow-minded working-class and middle-class people who know nothing about art, but also from supposedly Liberal arty people. I have had to constantly over-explain my art and artistry to people, who doubted I was even an artist! To be one of the few men to admit that he not only looks at porn but makes art about, it has turned me into a social pariah and outcast in the art world. Porn I have learned, is the only thing that can devalue art. And the obscener an artwork is, the less commercially, socially, morally, politically and humanistically valued it becomes.

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. I also discovered that there are so many other ways for cunning people to voice their disapproval of me and my art other than outright honest declarations of hate or censorship. All my life, people jumped down my throat for getting one aspect of a drawing or word wrong in a text - because no matter how small an error, they would attack me for that too! And they would criticize my work for things like my influences, style, or technique, which they blithely ignored in art that did not upset them. In fact, trying to avoid a direct confrontation or debate, they would think of every excuse under the sun, to tell me why they wanted nothing to do with my art – apart from the obvious reasons. 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 they stayed there, unseen for years. 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, unexhibitable, 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 and a few women are demons.

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, nudes of my lovers Edward, Helen, and Carol, and much later depiction of myself as a young man in Amsterdam with prostitutes made from memory.)

Just a few of the reasons I paint porn include; as a nihilistic expression of Eros when I was most suicidal and haunted by Thanatos; as a rage filled hyper-masculine revolt against maternal domination and psychological castration; as a visual display of ‘the erotic’s of agony’; as a transformation of the ‘trash’ of porn and my base desires – into artistic beauty and gold; as a collection of porn goddesses, my only companions in empathy, truth and damnation; as an attempt to surmount my terror of psychotic bad boy mimicking liberated women by painting them obsessively; to subconsciously mirror my mother’s psychosis - in the almost-psychotic faces of porn actresses and amateur sluts and their terrorizing gazes; 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 - the most concentrated and explicit form of society in media; 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 and morality; 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. You might even say, that far from being a hedonistic pornographer – I am a nihilistic, apocalyptic, Alt-Right moralist.

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. The way my worthless and reviled art was suddenly considered a commercial product completely bewildered me. 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 female lovers 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 had no standing in the Irish art world, because it 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. Moreover, my brief fame and financial success could not free me from the agony of my borderline personality disorder - only a total reordering of my whole personality could have achieved that.

Long before cancel-culture, and no-platforming, I was blacklisted in the Irish art world. My art has been attacked as adolescent, immature, revolting, insane, violent, ugly, sick, filthy, stylistically inconsistent, raw, obscene, degrading, sexist, misogynistic, exploitative, unacceptable, appalling - or simply not art. The slurs ‘immature’ and ‘adolescent’ made by art world insiders against my early work, were loaded attacks not just against me, but also against any young person in Ireland who dared to express themselves, question the authority of adults, or expose the hypocrisy of Ireland, instead of becoming a ‘mature’ conformist adult. They were put downs made by Irish people who believed that children should be seen and not heard, and who did not give a dam about the lives of the young. They were also typical of a tiny country whose social stability was assured for centuries by the mass emigration of its troublesome youths, in which there were practically no youth movements, and the media was mostly dominated by right-wing, ultra-Catholic, elderly voices and a smug, middle-class, conformist world view.

Others pretended not to be shocked, and said my work was boring! At my first official exhibition in The Garden of Delights anarchist bookshop in 1996, I was ganged up on, by a bunch of angry men who demanded I “explain myself”, and berated me for being elitist, ambitious, and wanting to make money from my art! I had never thought making money from art was a crime - but I had done nothing to make saleable or acceptable art. These so-called radicals turned out to be mostly bitter, envious crypto-Fascists and reactionary crypto-Catholics. The only thing they conceded, was that I was not a coward. But why I had to be subjected to their bullying bile - just to prove I was not a coward - was beyond me. For nearly an hour, these scorpions surrounded me and verbally attacked everything about me (notably, apart from my porn paintings) before finally at the end, a few grudgingly admitted they did not think pornography, or my kind of art should be allowed to exist!

During my major exhibitions in 2000 and 2002, 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. But my observations on the crisis of masculinity, modern liberated women, or Western decadent society were hardly mentioned never mind investigated. Instead, I was treated as a unique alien weirdo. 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! Almost worse than my critics, was the fact that virtually no one came to my defence, and my demonization was greeted with silence. 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. Ironically, it has often been the worst sluts and perverts who have attacked me and my art the most viciously - as they projected their own shame upon me.

On the other hand, those who were fans of my art but did not know me personally, were disappointed, and shocked I was so introverted, timid, and lacking in self-confidence. I was clearly not the dark self-confident, dominant, alpha male, super-predator they expected or desired! Worse still were the deviants and whores who totally misread my work and thought it was an affirmation of them! Moreover, little written about me by others – friend or foe, has ever given me any real insights into my art because most of it was a projection of the writers’ own issues and couched in such defensive and self-exculpatory language as to be pure bullshit. At the time, I naïvely thought that I was only critically treated the same way every other Irish or international artist was treated. And as a lover of art criticism and honesty, I thought it only fair.

Only over time, reading countless reviews on other far less talented and original artists, and seeing the sycophantic way they were treated – because they had the right victim identity, obeyed Woke clichés, virtue signalled, and made harmless, clichéd Neo-Academic, Neo-Salon, or Zombie-Neo-Mannerist pap - did the penny drop! Years later, my ex-Edward wondered, if I had been a better looking and charming alpha male, if people would have taken so much dislike and offense to me and my art? Carol thought, that if I were a female artist, my success would have been manufactured by the Feminist/Liberal art élite, and I would have been really championed, hyped, and venerated - the way so many female artists, who painted porn long after me were. They were given exhibitions of their decorative, prettified, and superficial porn, in the very same blue-chip art galleries and prestigious museums that had rejected me so dismissively. And while I was demonized, they were called courageous, sexy, and original - and their paintings were sold for prices I could not even dream of! But Carol also thought the main reason I had failed was because I refused to lie. So, I have become so disillusioned by people and the art world, that I am happier living alone with my beloved girlfriend Carol.

Yet since May 2000, I have sold over €61,766 worth of art. But I have not sold a single artwork since mid-December 2012. 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. However, I have not sold anything since the end of 2011. 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. Because the film maker said I was “too passive a character”. And he wanted me to do things in the film that I had never done in my real life, like fall in love with a prostitute, or vandalise the art of other artists in an art gallery!