“Portobello Flowers” By Rachel Tighe
Depictions of cities have been popular with both artist and audience for centuries. Virtually every movement in art has contained within it works that represent cities and arguably the iconography of these metropolises has been in no small part generated and reinforced by these representations. George Thornton Art has cityscapes on show in the gallery by three very different artists with three very different perspectives (quite literally, as well as figuratively) on major cities and it is very interesting to examine how their works represent the cities they have chosen.
Alicia Dubnycykj is an exciting artist who brings a sense of the speed and vibrance of her chosen cities to stunning life on her large canvases. In ‘Arc de Triomphe’ an aerial angular view of the iconic landmark at night, the streetlamps and car headlights seem alive and appear to actually be flickering on the canvas. Use of reflective glossy paint, especially when viewed in an artificially lit environment, persuades the viewer that the work is alive and full of movement. A capital city is frequently the synecdoche of a nation and the technique here, of lighting the Arc de Triomphe itself as the visual focus of the piece set in a surrounding of darkness, punctuated only by the street lights that lead the viewer’s eye to the Arc itself, achieves this extremely well. The Arc de Triomphe ‘becomes’ France.
“Arc De Triomphe” By Alicia Dubnycykj
In contrast, the representation of New York in ‘After Dark’ by artist Matt Colagiuri is a post impressionistic view of the city – the construction of the city and its identity signified through signs. Bright neon signs in primary colours contrast dramatically with the blackness of the New York night against which these are depicted. His use of photographic mosaic tiles set at different heights with a super glossy coating convey the sense of a vibrant and dynamic city purely through the use of recognised signs that speak of the United States. Still clearly a cityscape, but one that relies on a different way of defining and identifying NYC than that based purely on buildings.
“After Dark” By Matt Colagiuri
And by way of a total contrast to both artists is the work of Rachel Tighe. Her seemingly naïve representations of recognisable city views belie the cleverness in their execution. The artist confidently expects that the audience will recognise her interpretation of a given skyline and this gives her free rein to represent them in her own absolutely unique style. Having the courage to leave white, unpainted spaces on the canvas and to depict skylines of famous edifices (for example in Gondola View, Venice) in simplistic ways that still effectively convey the location is a real talent and shows the maturity of Tighe in her work.
“NYC Rooftops at dawn” By Rachel Tighe
So there you have it – three completely different ways of generating a response to cities, all highly effective and all most definitely provoke a reaction in the audience. They all reinforce the visual connotations of landmarks and skylines that are burned into our cultural consciousness.