Honoring the Cover Artist: Brendan Murphy

Brendan Murphy with one of his "Boonji Spaceman" sculptures
Brendan Murphy with one of his “Boonji Spaceman” sculptures
Courtesy DTR Modern Galleries

This issue’s cover, provided to us by DTR Modern Galleries, features the work of Brendan Murphy, a former student of iconic Hamptons artist Eric Fischl and now a world-renowned contemporary artist based in Miami. Many of his sought-after sculptures and paintings live in the esteemed private collections of Serena Williams, Warren Buffett, Ryan Gosling and other notable names.

How did you develop your signature brand of contemporary art?

I have spent the last 10 years in the studio, more than my 10,000 hours; actually, more like 20,000 hours. Becoming well-versed in art history helped me find my own voice and style, but once I found that, I kept working and pushing to be uncomfortable. My work has become recognizable by my signature formulas which represent the human experience comprised by a complex, multi-dimensional equations of emotions. I believe we are all constantly trying to make sense of our emotions, so my signature formulas explore how we process our emotions and the spectrum of the human experience.

How do you use language/symbols in your art to explore themes of human experience and emotion?

The formulas represent the shared, abstract process we all go through in the pursuit of our dreams. I think we all share a similar abstract exercise of trying to process emotions as we journey through the human experience. The process requires us to deal with our past, how we see the future and the uncomfortableness of the unknown. Some of the symbols I use act as familiar references, for example, the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence, which are elements that have been with us since the beginning of time.

What inspired you to create the “Captain Boonji” sculpture that appears on the cover of Dan’s Papers, and how does it serve to develop your “Boonji Spaceman” sculpture series?

“Captain Boonji” is a sculpture I created as part of the Boonji galaxy. The word “Boonji” itself is something I created which means positive energy, derived from creativity. My “Boonji Spaceman” series is all about embracing the unknown and taking that next step. I created “Captain Boonji” to be a leader, one that leads with love, one that chooses to make the impossible possible through happiness, joy and smiles. “Captain Boonji” stands with pride and welcomes all with open arms. I created “Captain Boonji” to be happy and welcoming and remind people to smile. From the moment you see “Captain Boonji,” you can feel his positive energy and excitement to dream.

What did the creation process of this “Captain Boonji” sculpture entail, and how did you go about photographing the finished piece?

I’m always ideating characters in the Boonji World, and I have been working on creating a “captain” and “leader” for quite some time. Although variations of “Captain Boonji”’ have been in my mind for years, the piece really took shape and came to life in about six months from start to finish. “Captain Boonji” needed to be a happy leader that would play well with the others in the Boonji Galaxy, such as one of my favorites, “Loolee,” a teddy bear sculpture that serves as a companion to the “Boonji Spaceman.” Powered by the expression of emotions, “Loolee” is able to fly when she shares her love with the Spaceman. So, you see how it was important for “Captain Boonji” to lead with love, smiles and open arms.

All of my sculptures begin with 3D design and creating the image using 3D technology, then I create the original mold based on size and scale I want to achieve. Then, based on my vision for the aesthetic, look and feel, I’ll determine which materials I will use, ranging from carbon fiber to marble to wood. “Captain Boonji” is a resin-based sculpture finished with a very unique and proprietary chroming process which allows me to make anything look like metal, a very important element to me, which enables me to create larger scales using lighter materials. In addition, I finish my work with a heavy marine layer of clear coat, so that my pieces can live outside.

I work with the same photographer for many years, Jaramay Aref. Jaramay has a unique ability to create one-dimensional photos that magically capture my multi-dimensional sculptures.

What do you find most rewarding about being an artist and sharing your work with the world?

I think the key word is sharing. All creative people are driven by not only making their work and creating their work, but also sharing their work. Growing a global audience is a dream, but I try to not think about that during the creation process. As an artist, I focus on pushing the boundaries of my craft with unique materials, color and often monumental size. Creating life-sized sculpture as public art is always incredibly rewarding, because it is art that can be shared with the world. I also find it very satisfying for my work to land in family homes and collections which I know bring joy every day.

Art is truly for everyone to enjoy and intended to examine our human experience. What I love most is that it brings people together in unexpected ways, especially during times of uncertainty, because the “Future Is Not Yet Written.”

To see more of Brendan Murphy’s artwork and inquire about purchasing a piece from DTR Modern Galleries locations in New York City, Palm Beach, Nantucket, Boston and Washington, D.C., visit dtrmodern.com.

Brendan Murphy with one of his "Boonji Spaceman" sculptures
Brendan Murphy with one of his “Boonji Spaceman” sculpturesCourtesy DTR Modern Galleries
Brendan Murphy's "Loolee Bear" (2023, carbon fiber sculpture with eight-layer silver-based chrome finish, 52" x 68" x 52")
Brendan Murphy’s “Loolee Bear” (2023, carbon fiber sculpture with eight-layer silver-based chrome finish, 52″ x 68″ x 52″)Courtesy DTR Modern Galleries
Brendan Murphy's "9 Intentions" (2023, oil on eight-layered silver-based chrome panel, 48" x 36") available at DTR Modern
Brendan Murphy’s “9 Intentions” (2023, oil on eight-layered silver-based chrome panel, 48″ x 36″) available at DTR ModernCourtesy DTR Modern Galleries