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Barnaby Whitfield, Little Deaths, All The Same


31 Grand
143 Ludlow Street, between Rivington and Stanton, 212-228-0901
East Village / Lower East Side
March 20 - April 19, 2008
Reception: Thursday, March 20, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

In what he views as the final installment in a trilogy for 31GRAND; Whitfield’s Episode VI has the Ewoks drunk and randy with no sense of the impending tragedy, as water licks at their treetop climbing toes (except in Barnaby’s world the Ewoks are more likely to be Abraham Lincoln clones.) Narratives woven through the last two shows crash and burn, then intertwine again to take on new life in this boisterous suite of pastel paintings. Barnaby Whitfield considers his works on paper, paintings, as defined in this beloved and oft cited quote from the Pastel Society Of America “Generally, the ground is toned paper – if the ground is covered completely with pastel, the work is considered a Pastel Painting; a Pastel Sketch shows much of the ground. When protected by fixative and glass, pastel is the most permanent of all media, for it never cracks, darkens or yellows.” However he requests you do not ask him to quote it at the artist’s reception.

From lovingly using his art dealer to anthropomorphize the ‘Bird Flu’ to finding fictional passion with Hernan Bas on a men seeking men website, we continue to get amusing and rather untrustworthy glimpses into Whitfield’s experience in the art world. And besides an over all theme the artist states as “sexualizing the environmental crisis within the context of American politics” we also see the end to Barnaby’s quest for his real parents (Whitfield was one of those children that always suspected they were adopted even though they knew quite well they were not), and a startling turn of events in his ongoing Clonie series (a character created when the momentarily impoverished artist decided to sell nudes on eBay inadvertently gaining the attention of 31GRAND and being welcomed into the fold.)

Never one to ignore a good bandwagon, this show is rife with imagery of Mother Nature’s rapidly declining health. It all comes to a questionably hopeful end in the piece “Wild! Woman! On The Water! (My Imaginary Friend She’s Just Pretend)” featuring Barnaby (in toddler form) and his Mother, Clonie, (along with Sarah Jessica Parker as Lil Orphan Annie) riding out the flooding from “Al Gore’s global warming” in search of dry land and greener pastures.
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