Within Barnaby Whitfield's paintings there exists a world where he reinvents his personal narrative into a fantastical illustrated guide to a survivalists truth. It is in this dream world, a return to Whitfield's Oz, that a seemingly insurmountable shame can be overcome through glorious debasement. But sleeping to dream, to reinvent and to re-live it all in technicolor, is not really sleep at all.
Most recently with the suite of works, 'There's A Story In Which My Eyes Shut,' Barnaby Whitfield imagines the father figure as his Wizard of Id, Klaus Kinski melts into Jon Voight and back again before being slain like the artist's own personal Goliath. And as is the very nature of this endless cycle of living to dream, he himself is beheaded only to wake up again surrounded by the detritus of this allegory- symbols of a narrative developed over the last decade- poised to deliver a loving eulogy that will never come.
This pattern becomes actual pattern (in the guise of his mother's Native American, vintage Seminole quilted skirt) that envelops his sister. Her dream face melts into the artist's own as they are extrinsically and intrinsically tied into the cycle with their exposed breasts bared as offering to feed the next in line.
It is Whitfield's obsessive love for the flora and fauna of his family's home in Florida -from a flamingo to the egg laying hen and hibiscus to flowering jade vine- that informs the topography of the world we see here. Finally, the journey presented in this tight, beautifully overwrought, group of works ends of course in the quiet coronation of Barnaby Whitfield as inherited ruler of an invented dystopia - a non-existent kingdom lovingly crafted in the artist's almost unparalleled technical mastery of chalk pastel.