Nathan Durfee, June 2012
Opening June 6, 5-8 pm
Durfee’s fanciful, often abstract subjects are painted with a sense of mystery and wonder
Robert Lange Studios upcoming exhibit, Tangled Dreams of Knots and Leaves, features the work of contemporary painter Nathan Durfee. Durfee’s fanciful, often abstract subjects are painted with a sense of mystery and wonder. In this new series, Durfee creates narratives but reveals only a hint of the world's secrets. Durfee will be at the June 1 event from 5–8PM, which is open to the public. The work will hang until June 22 and can be seen daily from 11-5PM.
“The show will focus on the lives of a handful of characters that share a bloodline,” Durfee explains. “Although the creatures will be of all shapes and sizes, there will be consistent characteristics to show they were once part of the same family. There will also be a passage of time shown in the body of work, the same characters will be depicted as they were young only to be revisited as adults.”
Durfee’s paintings capture the spirit of a magical and imaginary world. In “A Reprieve from the Mist,” an 18-inch by 36-inch painting, Durfee’s mastery of imagination is evident. Tall stalks of bamboo circle a “wild-thing” adorned with a basinet as the sun breaks through to light the scene. The creatures face is a blue patchwork of brush strokes while his body is spiky layers of painted fur. The creature appears again in “Greeted in the Symphony” a 48-inch by 36-inch piece. This time, the bamboo is thicker and the creature is being ridden by what is assumed to be the person that was previously in the basinet – now grown-up.
Durfee’s unique and often-unusual painting style encapsulates everything from the smallest details to the grandest forests using an arsenal of textures and colors. The forest scenes, which place the viewer at eye-line with the character, have such deep perspective that the viewer is forced into the scene.
“From a technical standpoint, I'm constantly pushing the limitations of my style to flush out a more believable world,” says Durfee. “My Patchwork style is still shown proudly, but accompanied with a variety of different glazes and textures. I've also been experimenting with new layers of color to build more atmosphere into the painting.”
One noted exception is the continuation of Durfee’s 'stare' series. These round 36" diameter paintings are portraits abstracted nearly to point of iconography.
“With the narrative stripped from these pieces it allows me to focus on color play and texture. These centerpieces are direct, in your face, and in sharp contrast to the softer paintings that will accompany the show,” Durfee said.
Durfee starts with a sketchbook, or more specifically a series of sketchbooks filled with pages and pages of doodles from his daily life. He can be found at a local coffee shop or sitting in a park sketching the people or the interesting angles of the trees around him. He then references the sketches back in his studio as he liberally swirls paint on canvas to create the general placement of the scene.
“The first layer of paint blocks in the shapes and gradually I play with various brush strokes to see what type of pattern or texture is needed to emphasize the form,” says Durfee.
Despite his uncanny subjects, his paint application is studious and technically informed. Durfee said, “The relation of emotions to brushstrokes is keen: anger will produce a harsher, quicker stroke than a feeling of calm or contentment.” Durfee likes to get his work done in as few sittings as possible, for the less time there is between work periods, the less likely emotions and brushstrokes will vary.
“It must be wonderful to disappear into such a fanciful world while painting,” says gallery owner Robert Lange. “When I look at his pieces I am transported into his reality for a moment but I think Nathan must live in this world most of the time.”
Durfee currently lives and paints in Charleston, SC and is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design. He has shown his work across the United States, and has been collected around the world. Durfee recently received the “Best Visual Artist” award in Charleston for the third year, an award that seventy thousand people vote for.
Please visit www.robertlangestudios.com or call for more information 843.805.8052. Digital images of art works are available upon request.