Category Archives: Surrealism

Surrealism is my forte – the rest is just practice (Art is the idea; not the execution).

Irreligious Iconography at Geisai #3 Art Exhibition

Here are a few pics from Geisai #3 in Taipei – my theme was “irreligious iconography” so I did some simple pop-culture icons and celebrities using antique religious icon frames from Cuzco, Peru. My paintings were very popular – everybody turned the corner, smiled or laughed, then grabbed their friends to come take a look.


“Skinny” 皮包骨 – 71x9cm – Oil on Canvas, 2010

A perfect “Hour Glass” figure – and yet it is obviously distorted and perverse. How thin is ‘too thin’? How much pressure, both internal and external, is put on women to lose weight in order to be considered beautiful? This painting highlights the self-consciousness of ‘bathing suit anxiety’.


Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy

Endangered Species

“Endangered Species” 瀕臨絕種物種– 117x91cm- Oil on Canvas, 2010

Asian mermaid in a lunchbox, paired with disposable chopsticks. This painting draws attention to the fact that we are literally eating ourselves out of our home, not only by exhausting the natural food supply, but also through our disposable eating habits, which create enormous excesses of waste and garbage.


Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy

Lamb Chop

“Lamb Chop ” 血浴– 127x97cm- Oil on Canvas, 2010

A.k.a. “Criobolium” – a poor man’s taurobolium; involves the slaughter of a sacred animal, and the ritual bathing in its blood. The death of the animal was supposed to take away sins – it died in the place of a human in order to satiate the bloodthirsty gods. The blood of the animal was used to wash away remaining sins. These practices were common in the Roman empire; Criobolium in particular was used in the worship of Attis and the Great Mother.

The ancient ritual continues, albeit in symbolic form, in modern Christianity. In this painting, Jesus has torn apart Lamb Chop and is shaking drops of blood on a bunch of Asian females. This sacred and powerful ceremony is belittled by the uninterested revelers, who are characteristically involved in playfully posing for the camera. Jesus is exasperated or resigned; he’s acting out of habit and duty, but has lost confidence in making real spiritual progress.

Interpretations: Jesus is the ‘tree of life’ – however he’s standing on the trunk of a much bigger and older tradition. The Jesus in this painting is really only a boy (young and short). The Taiwanese/Chinese, whose own spiritual traditions (mostly offshoots of Buddhism) predate Christianity, coddle and humor him in his bizarre and gruesome attempt to use ancient magical blood rituals to save their eternal souls.
Likewise, missionaries in Asia are often very earnestly trying to do what they consider is right; however their beliefs are often cut off from the vast and complicated history of Christianity and offer instead a rough, well-meant but ineffectual (and culturally inappropriate) form of indoctrination.



Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy


“Sacrifice” 犧牲– 127x97cm- Oil on Canvas, 2010

Mixed media using real Taiwanese ‘ghost money’. The kid and his dog are dressed up as chickens using the paper money; there’s a happy contrast between the dour, unpleased kid and his dog’s expressions and the surprise of the chicken costume. Mr. KFC is actually a Chinese guy wearing a KFC costume – he’s holding a can of kerosene and a lighter with a gleeful expression. All is set to go up in smoke.

Interpretations: forcing children into roles/lifestyle that don’t suit them, dressing them up as dolls for the pleasure of adults, or due to the unhealthy influences of the ‘fast food culture’. The Chinese man dressed in white as Kernel Sanders can represent the ‘whitening’ of Asian culture via the spread of Western idealism and globalization; this would be cultural ‘mimicry’ in the postcolonial Bhabhian sense.

The playboy symbol on the lighter further adds a sexual nuance to this piece. Wearing the grin of a dirty old man, the guy is obviously getting some sick satisfaction at the thought of ‘BBQing’ this kid. We could throw in all sorts of psychoanalyses…”I’ll get you my precious… and your little dog, too!”

We could even lean biblical; this painting may be interpreted as a modern rendering of the Old Testament scene where Abraham is ready to sacrifice his son at the Lord’s command:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, “Abraham” and he said, “Behold, here I am.” And he said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:1-2)”

All in all I would say it refers to Asian parents who are overly eager to push their children into the Western roles and lifestyles they’ve seen in the movies (studying English, playing piano, eating fast food, golden retrievers and SUVs) and thereby satisfying their own need for acceptance into the normalizing influences of internationalization.

這幅畫富含多種意象。例如將不適合小孩子的角色或生活方式強加於他們身上、為了大人的娛樂而將孩子打扮成玩偶、「速食文化」帶來的不健康影響等等。穿著一身白的那位中國人扮成哈蘭德桑德斯(Kernel Sanders), 體現出亞洲文化在全球化和西方理想主義傳播的影響之下, 正在逐漸「白化」。帶有從文化的角度上來模仿巴哈後殖民思想的感覺。

Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy

Mary Doody

“Mary Doody” 傀儡– 50x61cm- Oil on Canvas, 2002

Classical ‘Madonna and Child’ by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, but with Jesus as a howdy-doody puppet. Just who is in control of Christianity? It’s masculine forms of hierarchy – the triune male God – have led some to argue there is no place for women within its fold.
Mary alone, in the Catholic tradition, is worshiped as divine, ‘mother of god’. Does the woman who bore Christ have any power or influence, or is she immediately silenced by deferring to her son? This piece problematizes the gender issues inherent in Christianity.


Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy


“Conservation” 對話– 117x81cm- Oil on Canvas, 2009

A bizzare twist on the recycling motif. Taking long hot showers is a comfortable habit of Western indulgence that wastes both water and energy. How many times can the water be cleaned, processed, purged and reused? Will our pursuit of sterilization and personal cleanliness lead to our own ruination? Would taking less showers paradoxically be the ‘clean’ choice?

Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy


“Horny” 性飢渴– 117x91cm- Oil on Canvas, 2009

An Asian girl clutching the hem of dress coyly, is surrounded by the eager advances of two traditional temple door guards. Trapped in the gender role of sexual provider and dressed for the part, she seeks an alternative position.


Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy

One More Cup

“One More Cup” 來一客– 130x180cm- Oil on Canvas, 2009

One More Cup – spinoff from Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Emerging from a cup of instant noodles, holding a pair of chopsticks, this girl represents modern life on this planet. Our ‘fast-food’ culture is quickly destroying our ability to sustain our living – we are consuming ourselves and eating away at our own future. Nearby Heineken bottle represents willful ignorance and turning a blind eye to such problems, drowning ourselves in instant gratification.


Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy