LONDON.-Stuart Shave/Modern Art presents American artist Barnaby Furnas second solo exhibition with the gallery, on view through July 27, 2008. The show will present new and unseen paintings made during the last two years, including works from Furnas ongoing Rock Concerts, Effigies and Flood series.
Furnas uses the physical action of painting to hold the world in freeze-frame, dissecting the visual and performative landscapes he captures. Using these frozen images to read like film stills of speed Furnas creates complex spatial abstractions, often on an epic scale.
Working with the several techniques that form his varied painting practice, Furnas alternates through flooding canvases with paint or burning, scratching or spraying the surface with syringes to show the movement within his energetic process. Canvasses are doused as they pivot from an adjustable rig, allowing the paint to run downward and across at varied points; referencing the physicality of Abstract Expressionism as much as his own earlier beginnings growing up in Philadelphia as a graffiti artist.
These vast horizontal planes are drenched in a corporeal vivid pigment and urethane mixture developed by Furnas to capture this fast and impulsive application. Often these Flood Paintings have described bloodied landscapes, overarched by luminous blue skies and more recently the artist has created these epic vistas in black paint, inverting this reading of the visceral to a more abstract outpouring. While alluding to the physical intensity of action painting, these canvases betray their seemingly abstract surface by deliberately describing the scene of biblically scaled apocalypse.
It is in the Rock Concert series that Furnas conjures most of his diverse tricks of paint application. Painting the spectacle of violence that he sees as bubbling under the surface of these performances, Furnas shows them halted in an epic and graphic stasis of high crescendo. Within this series Furnas has previously documented the escalation of energy in concerts by The Melvins, The Velvet Underground, Mötley Crüe, Joy Division and Slayer, all dramatically lit from above with piercing shards of light cutting down into the band playing below, the light seizing them midway through their performance. In similar attention to figurative detail Furnas Effigy series are painted onto calf-skin, burned, cut and scrawled over with shamanistic intent. These works, like the Rock Concerts are built up with much tighter and more precise detailing while speaking more fluently of the codes of late 19th Century French portraiture, confining them to their head and shoulders only.
Barnaby Furnas (b. 1973, Philadelphia) lives and works in New York and has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth, Dallas, Texas in 2007 and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, 2005. He was also included in True Romance. Allegories of Love from the Renaissance to the Present, at the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna in 2007. Other group shows have included Dream & Trauma, Works from the Dakis Joannou collection, Athens, at MUMOK, Vienna in 2007-08; Imagination Becomes Reality, Museum of Contemporary Art at ZKM, Karlsruhe in 2007; Between Two Deaths, Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2007; and as part of the 2004 Whitney Biennial at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.