Nathan Durfee, November 2008
Opening November 6, 5-8 pm
For “Where Petals and Rain Fall” Durfee playfully manipulated the formal conception of each piece in order to create narratives that reveal the particular struggle or adventure of his
In his first solo show with Robert Lange Studios, Nathan Durfee presents twenty new narrative paintings and a series of miniature ink drawings. The show depicts characters whimsically featured in an array of settings and situations and is titled “Where Petals and Rain Fall.” On view through the end of November, with a festive reception to be held on November 7, 2008 starting at 5:30 p.m. featuring wine, hors d’oeuvres, and music in conjunction with the Charleston Fine Art Dealer Associations’ Fine Art Annual weekend.
For “Where Petals and Rain Fall” Durfee playfully manipulated the formal conception of each piece in order to create narratives that reveal the particular struggle or adventure of his subjects. The focus in his series lies within the delicate moments experienced by these fanciful characters. Durfee’s inclusion of bold graphic brush strokes and patterned backgrounds creates stunning worlds for his characters to tell their stories.
Durfee (b. 1983) studied traditional portrait painting and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. As his current work boldly exhibits, Nathan decided to take his art in a unique, wholly personalized, direction. “I thought I would be a traditional, realistic painter…but then, if I’m able to create a reality, why do I need to have it adhere to the one we live in now?” Durfee said. This ability to create both conventional and alternative realities allows him to push and pull his work from the realistic to the abstract with imaginative skill.
The larger paintings for the show have settings inspired by the Lowcountry, the area surrounding Charleston, including the inner coastal waterway, with weaving rivers and islands of sweetwater grass. In the painting “Patrick waiting Patiently” 36” x 60” oil on canvas, Durfee references the petrified trees of Bull’s Island nature reserve, an area close to his home in Charleston. This piece, like all of Durfee’s paintings, is infused with his masterful ability to create captivating images that intrigue viewers, leaving them searching within the narrative for more hidden clues.
In “Patrick waiting Patiently” the warm orange light casts a shadow on the beach that angles down away from the direction of the subject’s gaze. The overall happy, yet in some regards somber painting challenges the viewer to question whether the subject is experiencing a sense of longing or contentment. Is he waiting for someone to fill the empty tree branch next to him or is he fulfilled simply by the stillness of a quiet moment by himself? In this piece, a dog, which embodies parts of the main character’s psyche, watches the beach below. In many of Durfee’s paintings, animals are the muse and support, while in others they represent guilt and burden.
“Many of the works hold a tinge of sweet melancholy. The characters long for something, caught in their own internal conflict of love or growth,” said Durfee. “This is set against beautiful backdrops, which remind the viewer that despite the small trials, they live in a wondrous world.” The mood of each piece is affected by both the different color tones the artist chooses as well as the gesture of the subjects’ varied poses. While a narrative is suggested in all of these works, it is left to the viewer to ultimately complete each story.
In stark contrast to the brightly complicated paintings for the show, Durfee has been creating a series of miniature ink drawings that capture the same narrative only on a smaller scale. “Sasha is uncomfortable” depicts a kitten caterwhaling from atop a cactus. Undertones of endearment show through despite the creature’s obviously uncomfortable predicament.
“The show brings out the beauty in moments of happiness, sadness, and things in between, accepting the full spectrum of emotion.” said Durfee.