Among those who do as Baudelaire did are artists of all kinds. As they stroll, they pick up inspiration everywhere—from the visual cacophony of signs and architectural structures, the parade of people sharing the sidewalks, the rushing, honking traffic going every which way. For the five contemporary artists featured in “Urban Sensuality,” Artspace Warehouse’s city-centric exhibition, the urban fabric is fodder for their paintings. As their diverse compositions indicate, each of these artists—including Ralf Bohnenkamp, Hilary Bond, Marion Duschletta, Erin Hammond, and Bonnie Star—absorb and experience the city differently, and present it back to viewers in compositions merging abstraction and representation.
In her colorful, mixed media-on-canvas compositions, for example, Swiss artist Marion Duschletta creates pastiches of the most telling sights of cities worldwide. Appropriately, the works included in the exhibition at Artspace Warehouse are focused on the gallery’s hometown of Los Angeles. This sunny SoCal city appears as a patched-together collection of palm trees, signage, roads, and cars, against bright backgrounds that call to mind ample sunshine, glowing neon, and dramatic sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
In a more subdued vein, the mixed media paintings of German artist Ralf Bohnenkamp feature silhouetted figures against expressively painted, banded backgrounds. In small groups or alone, these figures seem isolated from each other, a state which hints at the loneliness city dwellers can feel in even the most crowded of public places. Or perhaps they may be seen in the light of another of the world’s great writers, Walt Whitman, son of New York, who thrilled to the crowds of his city, and wrote: “When million-footed Manhattan, unpent, descends to her pavements […] I too, arising, answering, descend to the pavements, merge with the crowd, and gaze with them.”