Graffiti-artist-turned-cityscape-painter Sean Flood debuts “Urban Outlook” this month at Childs Gallery in Boston, featuring urban landscapes that recall the skylines of Flood’s native Boston, though he also depicts other cities—such as Milan and Rome—with equal vibrancy.
Flood creates his oil paintings with an array of brushes and palette knives, emphasizing line and structure. Though he sometimes manipulates light and color in his paintings in order to make the compositions appear subdued and nostalgic—or giving them a luminescent sheen—he is unafraid to portray the more realistic elements of cities, such as trash and construction sites. “I have been exploring the more earthy tones and gritty city colors, but occasionally I’ll add color and do a blue sky. That’s what I’d like to do in Provincetown—it will inspire me to explore a lighter palette,” says the artist. Works such as Naples Alley (2012) are darker, employing expressionistic brushstrokes and evoking the more somber side of urban environments.
Flood, who has worked in construction and whose father was a builder, is influenced by architecture. Though he enjoyed the spontaneity of working outdoors, he eventually turned to oil painting because it reminded him of the construction process. Flood works in three-hour spurts to ensure the energy of his work is not lost, evoking his street-artist roots. Works like Street Composition I and II (both 2014) convey this kineticism; Flood paints abstract, vertical brushstrokes hailing from the sky, highlighting the vivacity of urban spaces. “I feel that the most intriguing aspect of painting is the ability of a single line to possess an extraordinarily large amount of expressive qualities,” says Flood.
“Urban Outlook” is on view at Childs Gallery, Boston, Nov. 13, 2014–Jan. 10, 2015.