Bryan McFarlane: My Dragon’s Silk Road
September 4 – 29 at Gallery NAGA
Launching its 36th season, Gallery NAGA presents the work of Bryan McFarlane, whose fourth solo show at NAGA vibrates with color and light.
Bryan McFarlane: My Dragon’s Silk Road is on exhibition from September 4
through 29. A reception for the artist and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, September 7 from 6 to 8 pm.
Jamaican-born Bryan McFarlane’s career, although based in Boston, continues to expand internationally. In 2008 solo shows of his paintings were mounted in Berlin and in Beijing, and he was among artists representing twenty-five countries in Beijing’s 2008 Olympics exhibition. In 2012, McFarlane was awarded the Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of his achievement in art.
His recent work floats a variety of images in painterly space, and the space itself is increasingly complex in color and shape. We asked him about this:
Q: How does the new series seem different to you?
A: Working in Beijing, looking at the nature of the society, looking at human values and materialism, with so much stuff and so many people. I’m working from more of an emotional and intuitive source rooted in real experience of places I’ve been – Beijing, Africa, the Caribbean, the United States. I’m working with all of those contradictory situations that are simultaneously taking place, trying to distill them into some sort of emotion. I’m not trying to narrate any kind of specific message. I’m just reflecting something of materialism in our age.
Q: Why are we calling the show My Dragon’s Silk Road?
A: My Dragon’s Silk Road has a lot to do with the strong significance of my journey throughout East Asia and China.
The Silk Road refers to the geographical path carved out by Asia and where culture and trade was vibrant between Africa, China, and the Middle East.
This is the year the dragon. I feel much of my way of seeing has been transformed by my travels there, encountering the dragon spirit that possesses most, if not all, of the inhabitants of China. The Chinese see the dragon as power, fortune, wisdom and superiority. The dragon is believed to ward off evil, bringing in good luck. Setting up a studio to paint in that part of the world I’ve naturally absorbed some of that myth and spirit. In addition, my son was born during the year of the dragon. That impacted me significantly.
I see myself as one Jamaican artist who travels and continues to create my own silk road to transcend much of the narrow scope that at times prevail in the contemporary art world and of which one can easily be locked into.
Q: Your surfaces feel more worked, scratched, and even built-up. Can you tell me what’s happening?
A: I create real surfaces as I feel them deep inside me. The surfaces are tactile as human emotions are tactile. Tactile surfaces reinforce the real in our relationship with humans and nature and our viewing psychology. My paintings are an immediate reaction to all my embodied fears, love, sensuality, meditation on peace and freedom and an unabated enjoyment of ones body and its complex senses.
My previous paintings were based on idiosyncratically describing an experience, wooing the viewer into various states. These new paintings have become less self-conscious and are more about immediacy–less about description or mere illustration.