Carter Flachbarth

'Morality Sucks'

Morality Sucks, the first museum exhibition by Carter Flachbarth (B.F.A., painting, 2020), showcases recent paintings that cast an ambiguous male figure in myriad narratives, reflecting on anxieties and tensions founded in contemporary global events. Flachbarth’s work is underpinned by prosaic themes embodied in the obscure actions of the artist’s protagonist. Originally cast as an autobiographical stand-in, this figure has come to represent broader archetypes of masculinity and their inherent flaws, and is depicted variously as agitated, melancholic, bored, and distracted. Layering his paintings with situational clues, Flachbarth prioritizes action through the amplification of scale, rendering exaggerated bodies — hands and limbs — cinematically, as if through a fisheye lens, bending and twisting the picture plane in irregular positions.

Signature image for Carter Flachbarth exhibition
Carter Flachbarth, “DRAW,” 2021, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 in. Courtesy of the artist and Richard Heller Gallery.

Flachbarth toys with perception and representation, creating each mise-en-scène with illusionary methods of painting. Passages of the works are made in washes of a single layer of paint, while others are grainy and textured, revealing rich surfaces that trick the eye or foreground the hand of the artist. The characters, whose flesh is rendered in shades of blue, are placed in environments that oscillate between convincing representations of space and the unsettling surreal landscapes of the artist’s mind.

About the artist

Carter Flachbarth (b. 1996) received a B.F.A. in painting from SCAD in 2020. The artist's figurative works focus on narrative through an autobiographical lens, often anachronistically predicated on the contemporary experience. Through use of altered perspectives and digitally imposed techniques, his works evoke modern dramas and anxieties set across a vast array of eras and locales. The perspective of the paintings allows the works to communicate on an intimate scale, through the tightly depicted features and crevasses of the figure's hands, and on a heroic scale, with a climactic narrative in line with the tradition of history painting.

Flachbarth has exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work has been featured in Forbes Italia and Juxtapoz Magazine, among others.

Install Views


Morality Sucks is organized by SCAD Museum of Art associate curator Ben Tollefson and presented as part of SCAD deFINE ART 2022.

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