Urban Sprawl: Examining the Human Environment
At a time when San Francisco and cities across the US are experiencing unprecedented shifts in demography and landscape, it has become ever more crucial for artists to examine the human environment, asking us to pause in the face of the small moments that create the backdrop of our everyday lives. In Urban Sprawl, CK Contemporary presents eight artists interpretation of the public terrain, and how it has become a metaphor for the human condition.
While there are elements in the works of several of the artists represented in this exhibition that could be labeled as “documentary”, each one approaches their subject as an experience more than merely an opportunity for replication. Elizabeth Patterson’s exquisitely rendered colored pencil drawings of rain on the windshields of moving vehicles are less about the cityscape beyond, and more about the feeling of being immersed in an environment from which you are protected. Light and movement dance across her picture planes in a flurry of alluring distortion, creating a sense of abstraction both literally and cognitively.
Marc Trujillo, employing a deep understanding of the formal elements of Old Master paintings, creates meticulous and curiously luminous compositions of mundane shopping malls, food trucks and parking lots. He says of his work, “The locations in the paintings are non-destinations, particularly North American kinds of nowhere, at once ubiquitous and yet largely unseen.” Trujillo’s process is slow and traditional, but his subjects are arenas of fast consumerism, forcing the viewer into a rare moment of genuine observation regarding our own relationship to these pervasive environments.
Spanish painter, Juan Escauriaza, and Belgian artist Ronald Dupont, approach their visions of the American landscape as outsiders, looking in. While Escauriaza mines for beauty in the most subtle details of our urban surroundings (the patina of a forgotten storefront or a net of shadows cast from nearby telephone wires across an aging neon sign), Dupont imbues his canvases with the vibrating energy of the city itself. Both artists, who's foreigness makes them naturally objective in their study of the American milieu, are able to capture the feeling of seeing a city anew - on the one hand, keenly aware of each exquisite detail, and on the other, immersed in the pace and fervor of the city as a whole.
An “urban landscape” is defined merely as a “representation of the physical aspects of a city or town”, but where that definition ends is precisely where the works by the eight represented artists in Urban Sprawl begin. The images in this exhibition are not simply documents of our thriving metropolises and small towns, but are instead windows from which we can examine the beauty of our shared human experience.