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Ben Murray 
Monique Meloche, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen

Ben Murray, "Hoop," 2013, oil on canvas, 72 x 90". Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery. Photo: Jim Prinz

Continuing through May 31, 2014

In recent University of Illinois at Chicago MFA grad Ben Murray’s first solo exhibition, the paintings are large and gestural. Those two traits are frequently associated with the grand and heroic, but Murray’s mark-making is personal and pensive, his forms cloudy and softened. Each subject is situated in a relatively simple composition: a bed, a glass ashtray, a bouquet of fluorescent tubes blending with a greyed and indistinct ground.

The absence of bodies is palpable in these works; the bed, the barstool, the backseat of a car, and the corner of a room are all empty; the ashtray, the shower drain and the fluorescent lights service no one. Though each of Murray’s paintings are focused on a solitary subject, they do not function as portraits or still-lives. They seem more like scenes, the site of some event or experience, much like a single object can trigger an elaborate memory. In “Hoop” a net-less basketball hoop tugs with loss and nostalgia, both intensely personal and readily accessible at the same time.

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