Bryan McFarlane was born in Moore Town, Portland, a place renowned for its heritage and the Maroons from whom he claims descent. As a result, history and identity are important themes in his work. His understanding of his own ancestry is paralleled with an interest in the diversity of the world's cultures and fuelled by his extensive travels that since his graduation have taken him to West Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and the Caribbean. His travels have inspired his paintings and provided visual metaphors for his formal pictoral references and content. He says, “My current work deals with the permanent and yet fleeting aspect of time. I see time as a mythical phenomena overlapping scientific and measured time. My work is about how arts and artifacts of diverse cultures have similar functions and meaning and yet may cause conflicts depending on personal and cultural perspectives. My work celebrates diverse cultures and their connectedness”.
Bryan McFarlane was the second recipient of the Karl Parboosing Fellowship that took him first to London and then to Boston where he completed graduate studies. Another highlight of his career was when he received a Bachelor Ford Faculty Fellowship to research and paint in Bahia, Brazil. He subsequently completed large scale paintings that were featured at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (ICA) and the Rose Art Museum. In 1987, he was commissioned by Miller Brewing Company/Phillip Morris to paint portraits of 12 leading African-American journalists for reproduction in their Gallery of Greats calendar. This work is now in the permanent collection of the DuSable Museum in Chicago. Bryan McFarlane y shows with Brenda Taylor Gallery and the George Adams Gallery, both in New York, along with a number of other institutions through North America, South America and Europe. For the past four years he
He writes: "We are at the end of an extended period of western cultural and ‘imperial dominance’-a period when both western aggrandizement and Soviet ideological straight jackets have run their course. These long competing systems have imploded, exhausted of new ideas and at times- depleted of originality. The vitality of the ascending order is emerging from the new cultures of the developing world, both in their own nations and in the great cities of the decaying old order. These new cultures are forging the future through their fresh zest for life, and growing discovery of their creative genius."