Artist Meg Lionel Murphy’s New Exhibition “Traumatica Dramatica” Delves Into Her Experience With Domestic Violence

“Fire”. Meg Lionel Murphy Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space, New York

On display at NYC’s The Untitled Space Gallery from June 5 – July 2, 2021, is artist Meg Lionel Murphy’s debut New York solo exhibition titled “Traumatica Dramatica”. Curated by Indira Cesarine, “Traumatica Dramatica” debuts the latest series of Meg’s vibrant and emotionally charged paintings. Meg’s paintings are directly influenced by her own personal experiences, as she copes with debilitating PTSD from severe domestic violence. She works out of a little blue shack in a junkyard on her family’s property in Wisconsin, where she paints detailed, vivid works on paper and panel depicting heartbroken giants that magically grow larger, stronger, and scarier than the world around them.

The exhibition addresses violence against women from her own perspective as well as the historical precedent of emotional and physical violence against women throughout the canon of art history.

“The idea of violence haunts me, and I try to etch that subject into even the pinkest of paint,“ she has stated of her visceral portraits.

Meg depicts through her vivid brush strokes and intricate imagery a reverie through which the viewer can get lost with each poetic detail.

“I first made paintings for myself and my own survival, before finding an audience. I am now building an audience upon the rubble of old art world rules. My paintings are figurative, girlish, and playful,” she said in a press statement.

Her paintings of the female form as giantess unconquerable figures address their experiences of pain, trauma, and healing as well as their interactions with the environments they consume as they assert their power. Her work depicts a reverence for fragility and humanity while examining questions about whiteness, gender, sexuality, class, sacrifice, pain, sickness, loneliness, and most of all—violence and its haunting memories.

Traumatica Dramatica is a spell. It will hurtle the viewer between moments of violence and euphoric escape, all while drenched in vibrant color. The title is both tongue in cheek and deadly serious. Traumatica Dramatica conjures a world of fantasy, far, far away, where violence magically transforms femme bodies into a monstrous size, so that their pain must be seen, felt, and reckoned with. These paintings are monuments to the wounds of violence and mental illness. Hung together, the imagery creates an epic story of how deadly memories and extreme moods manifest deep in our bones, mind, and imagination,” she said.

“Walking Through Hell Flames”. Meg Lionel Murphy Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space, New York

Meg also delved into the untold history of one of the most well-known artists of any era, Pablo Picasso, showing audiences that there is often so much more to the story than gets portrayed, and how domestic violence becomes something easy to ignore in light of fame and fortune.

“A rendition of one of Picasso’s paintings of his lover Dora Marr can be found in my work ‘An Origin Story’, which serves as a skeleton key for Traumatica Dramatica. Picasso, the man on which the modern history of art hangs, was accused by his partners of extreme physical and emotional violence, branding, and rape. He famously called Marr the embodiment of women’s pain. “Women are machines for suffering,” he stated. This painting, titled “Woman Weeping” embodied for me as an artist the pain many women have experienced at the hands of men. Picasso said women are either doormats or goddesses. His truest art was turning goddesses into doormats. In Traumatica Dramatica, women and femmes that are flattened to the earth in pain are still goddesses even if they are not giants. I believe we must find ways to communally hold both our own trauma and that of others,” she said.

“Safe Space”. Meg Lionel Murphy Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space, New York

Meg also opened up about her artistic influences and how her upbringing played a role in what we see in her paintings. The balance of cradling fairytales as a young girl and facing the harsh reality of marriage, especially one that becomes extremely violent, are depicted in vivid color throughout this exhibition.

“My favorite stories as a girl were about unicorns, rainbows, fairies, and angels. Trees could talk. Flowers had faces. I was a giant among the world of my dolls. All fairytales ended with a marriage. But as an adult, marriage was the most dangerous thing I ever did to myself. As adults, what modern fairytales do we still believe?” she asks.

There is a distinct intersectional aspect of her work, as Meg understands her own privilege as a white woman while also acknowledging the many different aspects that impact a person’s trauma and pain.

“Sink and Swim”. Meg Lionel Murphy Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space, New York

“Pain does not inoculate us from more pain. Survival does not inoculate us from the guilt that others will not escape. Victimhood of one kind does not knock away other forms of privilege. As a white woman, I force myself to reckon with that daily, while I carefully construct imagery about healing, individual bodily autonomy, and collective peace,” she said.

More than anything, she wants audiences to find escapism in “Traumatica Dramatica”.

“I want my paintings to be good luck charms. To be talismans of growth. I want viewers to escape for a moment, into this fantasy world I’ve created.”

You can learn more about “Traumatica Dramatica”, artist Meg Lionel Murphy, and The Untitled Space Gallery by clicking HERE.

“Grow Up And Leave”. Meg Lionel Murphy Exhibit Artwork, The Untitled Space, New York