Weaving Through the Woods and Shoulds - Nathan Durfee
Robert Lange Studios upcoming exhibit, Weaving Through the Woods and Shoulds, features the work of oil painter Nathan Durfee. Nathan says of the exhibit, "Sometimes it's not the ideas that are limiting but the time I have to properly express them. Over the years I've accumulated a list of things I should* do with my art; ideas that I want to test and try but may not want to dedicate and entire body of work to the experiment. This show is me exploring a few of these 'Shoulds' in my woods."
Nathan has been known to endlessly rework his initial sketches on the panel until he finds just the right composition. Once worked out, he systematically begins to build the painting with his diverse visual vocabulary of color and texture. All are welcome to attend the November 4 event from 5–8PM where the artist will be on hand to answer questions.
Durfee’s previous shows have been defined by narrative elements used to tell stories to tie the paintings together. This year he wanted to use composition and thematic elements to drive the show. These themes are broken into vignettes of 4-6 paintings. Each vignette exploring a concept that he feels, at some point in his creative career, he should really paint. The end effect showcases the growth and possibility of his artistic style.
Two of the works for the show are collaborative efforst with Charleston based photographer Gregg Lambton Carr. Nathan says, "I completed a few paintings with photographer Gregg Carr last year and I got really excited about the possibility layering my painterly style over photographs. It isn't a matter of adding to the photos, they are phenomenal on their own. My goal was to complement, have my style move about the piece. Another side effect of my art style is that it naturally eliminates the 'portrait' aspect of Gregg's photography.
A powerful new element in this show are the tangled works, revolving around the compositional element of the squiggly line. Like the abstract clouds he’s painted in the past, they allow Durfee to create abstract compositions that are anchored in reality, but unlike the clouds, the swirly lines bring anxiety. Whether it's a jump rope, yo-yo string, or even a tangled speech bubble, the swirls bring tension into the scene. Nathan says, "These tangled paintings culminate in my yoga poses: bringing the tangled human form against the serenity of my cloudscapes. The subjects in the painting are trying to keep mental stability while the body is pulled in numerous directions simultaneously."
Durfee's larger works are inspired by 19th and early 20th century paintings. His painting 'Growing Melody' was inspired by 'Portrait of an Extraordinary Musical Dog' by Philip Reinagle. Even though their paintings are very similar in composition, value, and color palette, Nathan's artistic style is enough contrast to create an entirely new piece. This is also true of 'Keeping the Dogs at Bay', inspired by 'Girl Reading' by Edmund C. Tarbell. With all of these larger pieces, there is a theme of hard work and artistic growth. Nathan says, "These paintings all have people refining their craft, which is also what I'm doing by creating them."
Overall the exhibit is the perfect example of Nathan Durfee’s unyielding ability to consistently evolve as a painter. He says, "A lot of these attempts make me seem less like an artist and more like a research scientist; testing theories and analyzing their results. This is intentional. I feel that as an artist it is not only important to establish a voice but to challenge it constantly. It is with this testing and experimentation that voices evolve and grow."
One collector’s comment in anticipation for the upcoming show is, “There is a lot of visual redundancy in the art world, even from world-class painters, however there is only one Nathan Durfee and that keeps me coming back for more.” Mylo Charles from Charleston, SC said.