Flowers, Forms, Touches
(Gestures of Openness)

Lubko Deresh [critics's text]

A new alphabet of sensations.  Touches to unknown inner planes.  Most commonly those that we will never dare to confess to ourselves.  This is my Michael Murphenko.

His pictures cause startling, paradoxical sensations of psychic volume.  The kind of psychic volume, which appears out of mutual exclusions, when one place in time and space is occupied by opposite senses - when at the same time, at the same place red and blue are present, or yellow and green.  Simultaneously - both yes and no.  In the case of Murphenko’s works, these conflicting senses are forms/colors/textures, which are confronting the images of the paintings.  The intrigue, the drama of his art lies in this confrontation - in the simultaneous addressing of the concrete and of the abstract, in the mysterious sensation of the motion between the opposite states.

A similar melting of senses into forms occurs in dreams.  Attempts to examine things in dreams lead to their melting into the air, leaving behind something wholly beyond words, deprived of a form that can be caught by our eye yet still present, exactly here before us.  Is it possible to grasp these slippery transformations?

Murphenko’s works testify that it is possible to achieve even more: to create a volume in the plane of the canvas, which can simultaneously contain both that, and the other.  But here begins the provocation.  The canvas remains flat.  Consequently, the volume ripens in the consciousness. 

His pictures provoke openness.
That special inner openness toward something that you wish to call tenderness (however this is not tenderness), confusion (however this is not confusion), enchantment (however this is not it either, although undoubtedly all these sensations are also present).  It is that openness, which is inconvenient and anxious.

Maybe, it is worthwhile to call these works the provocation of humaneness?  One wishes to write - new humaneness, because the humaneness of Michael’s works - is something other, new.  It breathes the humidity of the newly born time.  It is another form of festivity, which could have been conceived on Earth, if something in the history of humanity had taken an alternative path.  The Festivity of the psychic.  It is the charm of true riddles.

Because of postmodernism, the word "provocation" brings up associations of roughness, vulgarity, cynicism and combating ethical, aesthetic and moral conditioning.  The radical provocateurs of the twentieth century aimed to undermine the basis of the contemporary man - his spirituality and sociality, anthropology and physiology.  However, countless provocations in one and the same direction have finally led to the obvious result - the exhaustion of the very participants of the provocation – both the provoker and the provoked.  Saturation with artistic extremism led to the coarsening and anesthesing of culture, as well as of consciousness, in which this culture exists.

Instead, the provocation of Murphenko is the provocation of openness: towards oneself, the world, towards others.  Deprived of vulgarity, of cynicism, it does not play in the field where there are only two directions of the communication: attack and defense.  It constructs its own perpendicular direction of the senses, it provokes the weakening of defenses against the informational aggression of the environment.  It provokes acceptance and experiencing.  It goes without saying, that in this sense, the paintings of Murphenko are uncomfortable.  As uncomfortable as when a once familiar acquaintance unexpectedly makes a gesture of sincerity.  We feel lost and, deep in our soul, frightened by this gesture of openness to the world.  We fear that, possibly, we too will have to take off the armor of coarseness.  To touch one’s self as a newborn.  This is not a spiritual striptease, not exhibitionism.  This is the search for the stressed energy level, where the lines of support begin to form, to tighten into whole figures.  Where the senses still hum from being unsaid, unrealized, but already they have come so close to the surface that their features begin to be felt by us: painfully, enthusiastically, inspiringly.

Lubko Deresh, critic, writer, Lviv, April 2007