Barnaby Furnas - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Red Sea, 2006, is an outstanding example from the series of flood
    paintings by the American artist Barnaby Furnas. Now in mid-career,
    Furnas has pursued a number of strands in his work, including modernist
    takes on portraits of historical figures such as Civil War characters,
    battle scenes and paintings of rock concerts, but it is perhaps for his
    ‘Flood’ paintings that he is best known and admired. They are made on
    a monumental scale with a visceral physicality and offer the viewer an
    intense and immersive experience.
    Red Sea is typical in its fusion of allegory and abstraction and
    simultaneously invites and resists explanation. On the one hand, the
    painting suggests Biblical apocalypse and the Sublime in the manner
    of European history painting and Romanticism, while on the other it
    draws on the visual language of Abstract Expressionism. In so doing,
    it powerfully integrates a religious and historical lineage with direct
    painterly expression. The duality of instantaneous gestural technique
    and symbolical meaning lend this powerful work a deeply reflective and
    contemplative character.
    Red Sea embodies process becoming form. Furnas pours paint onto the
    canvas allowing his work to continually seek its own form. Traditional
    compositional boundaries are broken down; the paint becomes a living
    entity, its movements and moods dictating the work’s visual outcome.
    There is an ongoing tension between its fluctuating surface and the
    enigmatic layers which lie beneath. The tranquil background of the light
    blue sky is enveloped by a frenzied flood of redness. The rich and vibrant
    red carries with it associations of passion, rage and blood and engulfs the
    viewer; the composition shifts and pulsates with an extreme immediacy.
    As Furnas himself has said when creating this painting, “you pour red
    paint and have this incredible formalist experience… you’ve got a foot in
    both worlds. It’s really happening” (in Calvin Tompkins, ‘The Pour’,
    New Yorker, 13 March 2006).


Red Sea

acrylic and urethane on linen
350 x 850 cm (137 3/4 x 334 5/8 in)
Signed, titled and dated ‘Barnaby Furnas, Red Sea, 1/06, NYC’ on the reverse.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £133,250

Contemporary Art Day Sale

11 October 2012