Galleri Flach has the honour to end the season with the exhibition Life of Leisure, a series of new paintings by Johan Furåker. It presents a number of works that revolve around the mythical life of Luisa Casati, a female “dandy” who lived an extravagant and decadent life in 20th century Italy. Furåker continues his effort to explore classic surroundings and eccentric personalities in condensed paintings that evoke new life into dormant, historical stories.
Already as a student at Malmö Art Academy (2005 – 2009), Johan Furåker started to portray unusual stories and contexts. Over the years, the gallery of portraits has evolved, referring to an interesting blend of people and environments, directly or indirectly linked to each other. Luisa Casati was the muse and mistress of the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, the main figure in the exhibition A Poet in Need of an Empire, which was shown at Galleri Ping Pong, 2014. Both exhibitions tell about people who lived out their eccentric fantasies and beliefs about life in the borderland between dream and reality. Casati expressed that she wanted her life to be like “a work of art”, long before Andy Warhol had the same thought.
In the paintings we encounter a classicistic world of images that portrays magnificent environments, festivities and luxurious details. But there are also some purely abstract paintings that capture an overall idea of Furåker’s work that is about the essence of color and its own narrative. The difference in shades in the idea of for instance “decadence”, or “nature” which was an important theme in the exhibition Paradisus Terrestris (Galleri Flach 2012), is most apparent in the palette. While the greenery in nature resulted in a multifaceted spectrum of different shifts of “greenness” shifts, the “decadent” turns into different shades of blue and purple.
The paintings’ elaborated and bright colors as well as their structure and composition are important features in Furåker’s works. It may emerge in a crystal light against a bluish sky, reminiscent of the Mediterranean, or in the form of a hazy shimmer where the color range is reduced to various blue-gray shades. The sharpness of the details and the subtle shifts between colors, such as in the portraits of the masquerade dressed Casati, testify the artist’s fascination and sensitivity to the painting’s expressiveness through small nuances. He builds up an imagery, inspired by a chatolic iconography and luxurious excesses, that from a stylistic point of view is imbued by controlled balance and reduction. It gives the paintings an interesting tension between harmony and a strong suppressed movement and energy.
Johan Furåker graduated from Malmö Art Academy in 2009 and has over the past year exhibited extensively in many different contexts, including Le Premier Fugueur, CAPC Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France 2011 Without Destination (curated by Markus Thor Andrésson), Reykjavik Art Museums, Hafnarhus, Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2011, Déjà Vu – Contemporary art from the Malmö Art Museum, Turku Art Museum, 2012, In Search of Eden (along with Ditte Ejlerskov), the CCA Andratx, Andratx, 2012, Paradise Reclaimed (curated by Joakim Borda), Gallery North Norway, Harstad, Norway, 2014.