Using his materials to replicate bodily substance, Barnaby Furnas’s Untitled (Effigy II) is executed on the membrane surface of calf-skin vellum. Charred, punctured, and adorned with tattoo-like script, his figure sits as an emblem of torment and catharsis. Adopting the timeless and immortal qualities of portraiture, Furnas exposes the stretcher and canvas to both undermine and appropriate painting’s function as illusion. In revealing the image as a construction, Furnas evokes a sense of occult mysticism. Bringing to mind Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, or Poe’s The Oval Portrait, Furnas cossets the idea of representation as a black art.

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