His paintings are known for their intense realism and observed detail. They vary tremendously in scale from large scale paintings of mounted insects, taxidermy displays of birds, flowers, portraits of prize stud bulls to the series of miniature eye paintings. His interest is resolutely in the eccentricities the one required to stand in for all; the specimen and the subjects of Fairnington’s paintings are made more singular through being painted. He is building a sort of ark – a raft of individual creatures and typologies of painting – which probes the possibility of realism.
Previous exhibitions include a solo exhibition Collected and Possessed at the Horniman Museum, London (2015) and exhibitions A Duck for Mr Darwin at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (2009) and Fabulous Beasts at the Natural History Museum (2004). Unnatural History published by Peter Zimmermann Gallery (2012) was a monograph of the artist’s work with a text by Darian Leader.
‘Fairnington distorts scale, rearranges species, creates new and dubious random couplings. He puts the mystery back into science and reminds us that we don’t know everything, that much can still not be explained. The tension between elements in his paintings is resolved pictorially, but leaves a subtle charge – a leaven of doubt – to be absorbed by the receptive viewer.’