Brooklyn, New York based Brian Alfred‘s paintings, collages, and animations examine how technology has altered our perception of our surroundings and how we process information. Working from photographs, Alfred uses a computer to reduce images (often of architecture, machinery, urban landscapes, and office interiors) to their essential forms, before turning these elements into flattened, bold color fields that retain a handmade feel.
Amy Park is known for her carefully rendered, large-scale watercolor paintings featuring iconic architecture. She works almost exclusively from photographs. Her subjects have included Donald Judd’s structures in Marfa, experimentally designed homes in California, and other icons of Modernist architecture. Her best-known series is based on a famous series of architectural photos by Julius Schulman; while Park faithfully reproduces Schulman’s original compositions, she selects the jeweled colors based on her recollection and interpretations.
Another body of works was inspired by the New York City urban landscape, with particular attention paid to repeating textures and patterns. These works were based on Park’s own photographs of major landmarks and skyscrapers, reimagined with more intensely saturated hues.
New York-based artist Alexandra Pacula paints large-scale works that explore the dynamic energy of cities at night. With virtuosic brushwork, vibrant color, and fluid gesture, Pacula captures the motion and chaos as well as the sublime beauty of urban space.
Her streets are filled with light that travels almost of its own accord within the compositions, and she has developed a nontraditional style of painting that combines impressionism, expressionism, and photorealism. The resulting paintings ensnare the eye and transport the viewer to another dimension, reminiscent of the fleeting yet mesmerizing moments that take place only in the big city.
Artist Ben Tolman creates incredibly intricate drawings that dig for the heart beneath the hard edges of the built environment. He lives and works in Washington DC. He received his MFA in 2012 from American University and his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2005. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally including being an exhibited finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
Tolman has focused on the built environment—cities and suburbs, real and imagined, and the effects that they have, for better or for worse, on the people who inhabit them.
Rik Smits is a Dutch artist who works with several media. His large pencil drawings depict cities and landscapes sceneries, sometimes with a realistic attitude and other times with touches of surrealism or a narrative theme.
“My work deals with the relation between religion and capitalism, which is depicted in a scenery of architectural landscapes/cityscapes. These landscapes show the contours of an imaginary city. A city which breathes the human ambition towards power and status. Its large scale buildings reminds us of the industrial utopia’s which prevailed in the human mind, but failed to shine or provide peace and humanity in the real world.The most prominent facet of this city is perhaps its appearance, from which one can easily read that the main ideology of its inhabitants is Capitalism. But this ideology is beginning to manifest itself in a religious manner, and will maybe even become a religion itself.” Rik Smits
Vasco Mourao is an architect and illustrator originally from Portugal who now lives and works in Barcelona. His densely illustrated cities and structures are drawn entirely by hand and while all are of course fictional places, they often incorporate real buildings.
Mourao has an unparalleled eye for detail and underlying structures that has led to a full-time career drawing buildings. He describes himself as having a ‘tendency for obsessive drawings,’ starting with an early focus on horses, but growing to encompass entire cities in his own intricate style.
Francisco Diaz sees modern cities full of “non-places” because of the irregular and not inclusive masterplanning. These places are the canvases for his paintings.
He works on experiences, considering the space where he gets to create his work: a city, a rural space, an open space or a closed space. Working with symbolism like arrowheads and flora, the pieces begin a dialogue about the nature of man and his surroundings. The existential, real, pure and tragic elements, almost forgotten in modern society.
A miniature city with office buildings and skyscrapers constructed by Peter Root out of more than 100,000 staples. This “Ephemicropolis” stacks of thousands of paper staples form the downtown core of the city. This creative project took 40 hours to complete.
Blocky skylines made from stacked books dominate one side of the gallery in Chinese artist Ji Zhou‘s new show at Klein Sun Gallery and first U.S. solo show, Civilized Landscape, while crinkled maps become mountain ranges on the other.
“My concerns lie in why more and more cities are becoming visually identical and boring in their cityscapes.”
Ji Zhou specializes in capturing ephemeral ideas and moments in beautifully composed photographs. For example, after a fire in his Beijing studio coated it in ash, he responded with Dust (2010), a photo series in which every surface is colored with monochrome, ashy grey. In Civilized Landscape, he responds to the construct of civilization as a whole.
The “Maps” portion was improvised and sculpted straight from Zhou’s imagination, while the “Maquette” cityscapes are the result of meticulous planning. Zhou sees books as “channels to receive and accumulate knowledge,” while maps are two dimensional repositories of information: “My opinions on cities and civilization mainly comes from books I’ve read,” he says, “Associating maps with landscapes is almost an innate relationship to me, a theory probably be caused by my teenage dreams about the world.”
San Francisco in 1964 was probably a very interesting place to be. GOP conventions, the Beatles, growing city, and Arthur Tress was there to capture it. Right now at the de Young Museum in SF, there is a great exhibition on display titled Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964.
In the summer of 1964, San Francisco was ground zero for an historic culture clash as the site of the 28th Republican National Convention and the launch of the Beatles’ first North American tour. In the midst of the excitement, a young photographer new to the city was snapping pictures not of the politicians or musicians but of the people in the crowds and on the streets. Arthur Tress, an accomplished American photographer, made more than nine hundred negatives in San Francisco during the spring and summer of 1964—among his earliest documentary work. Exulting in juxtapositions of the mundane and the absurd, Tress captured the chaos of civil rights demonstrations and political rallies, the idiosyncratic moments of San Francisco’s locals, the peculiar contents of shop windows, a miscellany of odd signs and much more.
Tress developed and printed his black-and-white negatives in a communal darkroom in the city’s Castro district before departing San Francisco in the fall of 1964. The vintage prints were packed away in his sister’s house, coming to light again only in 2009. The rediscovery of this forgotten body of work inspired the photographer to revisit his early negatives, and Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 is the delightful outcome.