Monkey's Recovery: Jennifer Murphy

Monkey’s Recovery is an exhibition of new work by the Canadian artist Jennifer Murphy including framed works on paper and assemblage-installations. The framed works are made from paper, silk, lace, eel skin, suede, butterfly wings, and other materials; the assemblages from shells, metal, flowers, pins, burnt matches, rusted gears and other objects both found and made.

Both bodies of work are loosely based on the woodblock prints of Japanese artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. In the mid to late 19th century, Yoshitoshi made strange and beautiful depictions of Chinese and Japanese legends centering around the moon, mist, witches, ghosts, demons, and other mystical characters and events.

In Monkey’s Recovery these stories are not retold, appropriated, or referred to directly, but rather allowed to permeate the space and cross-breed with multiple other images, ideas, and stories. In addition to Yoshitoshi there is the influence of Inuit and African masks (traditional and contemporary); European religious imagery; historical caricature such as James Ensor’s dreamlike masks and scenes; and contemporary forms such as John Baldessari’s ears and noses, John Stezaker’s uncanny surrealism, or the simple buffoonery of Jim Henson’s Muppets.

Murphy’s work delights in the basics of collage, where things stand in for other things, so that everything is multiplied. Multiplicity occurs sculpturally, too, through the coordination of many differing gestures and affects: extension, retraction, precision, lightness, spinning, dryness, richness. Also included in the exhibition are two Yoshitoshi woodblock prints from the series “Thirty Six Strange Things,” including Kiyomori Sees Hundreds of Skulls at Fukuhara (collection Jennifer Murphy) and The Peony Lantern (courtesy of Stuart Jackson Gallery). The exhibition title is borrowed from a work by Richard Tuttle. Jennifer Murphy graduated from Queen’s University, Kingston. This is her second solo show with the gallery.