The Third Hunger

I’ve been drawing a lot lately and mostly showing these new pieces on Instagram, follow me @austinfurtakcole if you’re interested in seeing more. Thought I’d share a compiled bunch of them here.

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Austin Furtak-Cole on Duccio di Buoninsegna

Painters On Paintings

tumblr_mpm7lgFOGp1rqcv5do1_1280 (1)Duccio di Buoninsegna, Rucellai Madonna, 1285, Tempera on panel, 177 x 114 inches

I was introduced to this painting in an undergraduate art history survey class and didn’t think much of it. My young self was unable to get excited about an awkward religious painting in a three by four inch reproduction in the fourth edition of a Stockstad art history book.

After college, I saw it in person for the first time. I traveled around Europe for three months with the soft goal to see, in the flesh, as many of the reproductions from that art history book as possible. I remember seeing this Duccio at the Uffizi then, but like a lot of the work I saw on that trip, I simply checked it off the list – I knew it was important, but I didn’t know how to spend time with it.

In summer 2013, I went back to…

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The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser



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The Seventh Seal

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Life in gifs

I created a bunch of new gifs mostly inspired by friends from the past few years, enjoy.

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Trying my hand at gifs.

I knew my space would be limited when I moved back to Brooklyn, so I’ve had plans to start making some animated gifs. This is my first attempt. (If you want it to stop you can push the esc key, but you’ll have to refresh your browser to get it started again.)


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SONY DSCHeavy Handed came down about three weeks ago and since then my time my time has been mostly focused on packing.  I’ve decided to move back to Brooklyn, New York at the beginning of January, and although there are a lot of overwhelming feelings that come along with that I do feel excited about the decision.  The move is causing me to consolidate and deal with stuff I don’t want to deal with.  As I shuffle through the works I’ve tucked away over the past two and a half years I start to realize how much more I actually make than show. I’m not sure how I feel about that, it seems kind of necessary to create a lot and then pick the best to show. The question becomes what do I do with all this extra work? Particularly unfinished paintings or works I care less about; work I will probably never exhibit. In a moment like now, where I only want to bring the bare minimum to New York due to little space, it feels more important to weed things out and maybe roll up the larger works I did in graduate school…

Not having very much space in New York is another factor I’ve been wrestling with in my head. I won’t have a studio to start off so I’ve been thinking about how I can streamline my practice. I’ve been pondering the idea of making a new animation based on the prints I’ve been doing recently, or even simplifying that idea a step further by making gifs. A gif a day was a thought, but I’ve actually never made a gif, so I don’t know how reasonable an idea that is.

Thanks again to all the people who came out to Heavy Handed.  The show had a really positive response and feels like a good conclusion to my time at the Vermont Studio Center.  I’m attaching a couple pictures from the reception below. Also, I recently updated my website with a lot of the work from the show  Lastly, to all my friends and acquaintances living in New York I’m in the process of looking for employment.  I’m hoping to find a gig as an artist’s assistant, which is something I’ve been doing over the past year for the artist Dusty Boynton.  I’m also interested in doing some art handling and/or teaching if the opportunity arises.  If you have any leads I’d love to know. Thanks!


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Heavy Handed Statement

Heavy Handed has been up for about a week now and I’ve been getting a really positive response, I thought I’d share the statement I wrote for the show and few more images.  Also, for the locals, the next issue of Seven Days will have an article about me and the show, so keep an eye out for that – on news stands Wednesday, November 20th, the same day as the reception for the show.


These drawings and paintings began as simple cloud forms. Through the process of making, they magically began to push out body parts—hands, specifically, began to dominate the pictures. My own interest in hands increased during a trip I made to Italy this summer. Looking at the paintings of Duccio, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and de Chirico, I became interested in how their own hand was in the work, i.e., how they actually touched the paintings to make them, and how they portrayed hands in their paintings as expressive forms.

The process of making a painting holds a different meaning for me than the final image does, but I am interested in how those two elements work together to form a meaning larger than either aspect alone. For instance, my own touch has become important in the making of this work; the prints depend on how much pressure I apply to the paper as I work with the material to find the image. The characters represented in the work do a similar thing: they try to find their way, pulling from and penetrating the nothingness they are simultaneously confronted with and derived from. They blindly search for meaning, perhaps to no avail.

Maybe these hands floating through the unknown are my own illusory attempt to understand what it is to experience—and to find meaning—as a human being. Through making this work, I’ve often found myself questioning how much meaning I can and should be controlling, and in general, my inclinations have moved toward letting go of my heavy handed tendencies and relinquishing the control I might never have had in the first place.


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Heavy Handed

SONY DSCI spent yesterday installing my latest exhibition, Heavy Handed at the Vermont Studio Centers’ Red Mill Gallery. It’s open from November 11th through November 28th, 2013. The reception will be held on November 20th, 7 pm. This will be my final show at the Vermont Studio Center. I will  be saying farewell as I’ve decided to move back to New York City in January. Below are some images from the install.

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Control and Meaning

I’ve been doing a lot of mono-prints lately, and I’m excited about them, but my attempt to re-imagine the ideas I’m creating in the drawings/mono-prints continues to stifle me when I try to make new paintings.  The process I’m using with the prints is casual, spontaneous, simplified, and has a built in element of surprise which doesn’t allow me to overly control the work. When I’m making the prints I don’t worry about getting it right I just draw them with little expectation of what they need to be. It feels okay if they’re throw-aways, I can always make another one.  When I switch to painting though, I end up illustrating the idea instead of making/finding  it – the process doesn’t mediate in the same way that making the prints does.


I’ve always had this underlying, nagging feeling that I need to give meaning to what I make. In talking to my friends about this a lot of them come from a few opposite viewpoints than me. They don’t feel like they can necessarily control the meaning, that the viewer can find the meaning, that things already have meaning without me interfering… it’s not that I don’t agree with them, but I struggle to know where I fit within that. If I’m making something I’m controlling it to some degree, where or how do I set that dial?

Right now, at least in the paintings, it feels like I’m controlling too much. In the images themselves I seem to be placing myself in this position of being god while also knowing that I probably have less control over my life than I’d like to think.  There’s this impossibility of having control over things and yet this grasping to gain the things I want to be true. One interpretation I have of this is that this is me painting, where I am god over my own work but there is still something else at play, something I inevitably don’t control. I used to find it curious when reading greek myths that although the gods had a lot of power and control over things they still always seem to have trouble, things don’t necessarily go as planned.

IMG_1765 IMG_1764I keep turning to ways I might change my process or material. The idea of switching to acrylics has dawned on me a few times – it seems that as a material it would be more spontaneous. I resist switching though (which is probably a sign that I should try it)  – I don’t have a particularly good reason for this.  I’ve always liked that oil has a sensual quality that relates to the body, and how it works as a material – but those reasons seems less and less important as time goes on.

I also think that it might not just be a matter of materials, but more a shift in attitude. I can only move through life finding things that fulfill my time, and it doesn’t really matter what those things are, just as long as I find them important or interesting, i.e. have meaning to me. Perhaps I need to have faith that those things that I fill my time with, and find important, will be important and interesting to other people as well.


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