The active moment versus painting's innate stillness has been a central concern of Barnaby Furnas' work over the past decade. Pitched between depicted action and the act of painting - paint's illusory potential and its materiality - Furnas entwines history with art history in provocative combinations of narrative and form.
The first and last day comprises two distinct yet closely related bodies of work which bookend all of time, encompassing origin and the end of the world. Employing grand religious subjects as familiar narratives for his works, Furnas has developed a suite of six large-scale paintings presented in the downstairs gallery which depict the Creation myth, while upstairs, a series of contemplative near-abstractions evoke the vast desolation of the final flood.
Process is essential to Furnas' compositions, with content following form as the artist endeavors to make paintings that are analogous in their construction to how they function in the world. "A painting is interesting to me to the degree that I can integrate myself in it's making" says Furnas "the paintings are at their most engaging when they are making themselves". In the Creation series, Furnas' technique integrates wholly with concept, as his method of pouring paint along a grooved surface on the canvas introduces gravity into the work in a physical and literal sense, as the imagery depicts the sequence of events leading to the Fall of Man.
The flood paintings presented in the upper gallery are an extensive series of monochrome works of identical size, each bisected with a lateral line that provides the effect of a singular horizon consistent throughout the installation. Here, Furnas' water-dispersal method of production is indebted to the Abstract Expressionists' experimentation with paint and gesture, while his technique of 'flooding' the canvas with pigment aligns conceptually with the natural phenomenon the works represent. The first and last day underscores Furnas' interest in spectacle and the sublime, in time and its relation to making and viewing painting, and his on going exploration of painterly technique as a kind of hyper or vivid realism to communicate human experience.
Barnaby Furnas was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1973 and lives and works in New York. He has had solo exhibitions in recent years at the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth, Texas (2012), Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2009) and at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2005), with work featured in group exhibitions at venues including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2011), the Ullens Center, Beijing (2010), the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (2008), Deste Foundation, Athens (2007), Kunsthalle Wien (2007), Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai (2007), The Royal Academy of Arts, London (2006), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2003). Furnas was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.