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The characters in Ethan Murrow’s paintings and graphite drawings oftentimes find themselves gleefully absorbed in nature, romancing the land and attempting the absurd. The Boston-based artist draws on the faded pastoral idealism of America, rendering mountains, rivers, and forests as impossibly sublime wonderlands primed for exploration. Narratives focus on sincere, perhaps naïve innovation, as flower-headed canoers and rugged adventurers trapeze the landscape with childlike determination. Murrow invites the viewer to skeptically, endearingly engage with this complicated nature of ambition— which can be traced through time as a pendulum between expedition and conquest, heroism and revisionism. Across richly textured scenes, Murrow casts his figures as active spectators wandering the grand parade of history.
Murrow’s recent paintings on high flow acrylic expand on the opulent detail of his work on paper. Paying homage to the Hudson River School Painters and Grant Wood, Murrow treats the natural scenery as a forceful catalyst for his characters’ endeavors. Bouquets and roaring waves glimmer with an uncanny vibrancy, mirroring the surrealist bent of his narratives. The use of color brings a heightened theatricality to the already whimsical scenes, which oftentimes originate from staged photography shoots. Murrow seamlessly blends the believable with the extraordinary, creating alchemy out of the mundane.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ethan Murrow has been widely exhibited across the United States, and in France, Jordan, and Hong Kong. In addition to working on paper, Murrow creates large-scale wall drawings which have been featured in museums and corporate collections, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston MA, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Jacksonville, FL, and Facebook Offices in Cambridge, MA. He is the recipient of multiple residencies and awards, including the Ballinglen Arts Foundation Fellowship, Ireland, and Artist in Residence Fellowship, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Nebraska. Ethan Murrow is based in Boston, MA, where he is a professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University.