By Phebe Wahl | January 4, 2021 |
Artist Brendan Murphy explores the great unknown in the most dazzling of ways.
Brendan Murphy, “Just in Case,” 72 inches by 96 inches
“The piece is more of a progression of my work. The image of a spaceman taking a step forward really captures someone embracing the unknown on the highest level,” explains artist Brendan Murphy of his latest work, “Frozen With Desire.” An extension of the artist’s Spaceman series, the work features 5,300 top-quality diamonds set in over 100 ounces of platinum metal. “There is absolutely no good reason to make something so spectacular, other than the fact that there is no good reason not to do it. There is never a good time to make a 1,000-carat-diamond anything. Except probably right about now,” he explains of the piece crafted in collaboration with precious metals and diamond expert Johnathan Schultz. Murphy’s work is collected by the likes of Jorge Paulo Lemann, Larry Page, Warren Buffett, Steve Lefkowitz, Scott Prince, Ron Marks, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Dan Och, Bracken Darrell and Steph Curry. We checked in with the athlete-turned-artist about his Miami studio—and his dazzling new work.
Brendan Murphy, “Candy Heart,” 24 inches
“Release Yoga Girl,” 74 inches by 30 inches
What made you decide to locate a studio in Miami, and what do you love about Miami most? I’ve always had a studio in Miami. There is a strong current of energy, inspiration and ideas there. Ironically, it is also a very quiet place for me. I like both elements. Miami is vibrant, and while most people are out partying, I find it a good place to work and execute my ideas. The contrasting combination of electric energy and quietness is what I like most. Best of both worlds, I think this is what makes Miami a very productive place to be as an artist.
Your work explores the spectrum of human emotion. How does that translate during a year that can only be described as an emotional roller coaster? Life is an emotional roller coaster—feeling our emotions, processing our emotions, controlling our emotions, making sense of our desires and feelings. I believe this is a constant. For me this year highlighted fear more than ever; more uncertainty, more stress and anxiety than usual. I guess you could say these emotions were magnified, and it is across the globe. I feel like someone added an extra loop on the roller coaster, but it’s not like we weren’t already on one. Life is liquid and moves that way. This past year that liquid just moved a little quicker and [more] abrasive. It has sped up and has extra loops. We need to be in the present moment now more than ever and enjoy beauty however we can.
Equations are also a big part of your work. Can you share how these formulas factor into your process? I believe we are all constantly trying to sort out our feelings, make sense of them. We are always trying to land on an emotion so we can communicate properly and effectively with someone. The equations represent a shared, abstract process we all go through. If only it was as easy as 1 + 1 = 2! A little of our past, some wonder, anticipation, dreams, passion, etc. ... an uneven mix of some heavy feelings, all in pursuit of balance and understanding, a platform we can jump off.
“Green Is for the Money and Gold Is for the Honey,” 72 inches by 96 inches
Your work also demands the viewer be present. Why is this more important than ever? These days it is a very difficult time to command anyone’s attention or to bring them into the present moment, so that is a compliment. Thank you. People’s minds are wandering or worrying—distracted and disconnected. Everyone is looking down at their phones. I hope my work brings people into the present moment to connect with themselves and to just pause. Some of the materials I use in my sculptures create a reflection, so when people look at them they literally see their reflection. Self-reflection moments are good for everyone. I feel like presence invites experience. I just want people to have an experience.
In the pandemic your work seems to connect with people more than ever. Why do you think this is? I just think people have more time to stop and look around. The pause and some of the restrictions allowed for that. This is when artwork gets attention. Anytime art gets attention is the best thing the world can hope for. People are trying to make sense of everything, and that is when they turn to art. Inspiration for my work is exploring how we process emotions, and during this pandemic this is an internal struggle shared by everyone.
‘Frozen With Desire’ will soon go on a world tour. Can you share a bit about that work? This piece is more of a progression of my work. I have placed a number of spaceman sculptures and paintings in collections; the image of a spaceman taking a step forward really captures someone embracing the unknowns on the highest level. Diamonds are timeless, and they are relevant 1 million years later or two years after they have formed. Like a David Bowie song, it’s timeless, it has it all. As an artist I’d love to think that this piece will forever be timeless and special; this is the piece they would put in a time capsule found by someone 1,000 years later. There is absolutely no good reason to make something so spectacular, other than the fact that there is no good reason not to do it. I believe anything is possible, and these are the times we can inspire others and keep creating.
What is up next for you? Any news, collaborations or upcoming shows in 2021 that we can buzz? The ‘Frozen With Desire’ unveil is a game changer for me, and that will start the year off with a world tour consisting of many solo shows in Palm Beach, L.A., Hong Kong, London, Monaco, etc. I also have a 20-foot spaceman installation in Antigua at Hodges Bay Resort that is going to be something beyond special along with a 33-heart installation. I am looking forward to many new creations and collaborations, and exhibitions. I am focused on all of the opportunities to change the world by making beautiful art. Things are flowing and I am ready. Let’s go!
“Boonji Spaceman,” 81 inches.
Photography by: Courtesy of Brendan Murphy