Locks Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Ash and Gold, a solo exhibition of Philadelphia-based artist Tim Portlock.
In his first show at Locks, Portlock presents two series of large-scale cityscapes portraying semi-fictional views of Philadelphia and San Bernardino, California. These monumental vistas emphasize the built environment absent of people, focused instead on the prolific presence of vacant buildings and empty lots haunting cities today. Through a combined process of photographic documentation, 3D-animation and digital effects, Portlock’s hyperreal portraits of American cities convey a disquieting sense of loss and an unsettling artificiality.
“While I could use many other mediums, such as painting, to construct these types of images, special effects and computer game software is uniquely suited to the task of making hyper-realistic visuals that approximate the real world… I am also interested in using computer software, which is specific to the post-industrial age, to create images that depict the decline of a way of life centered on industrial production.”
Originally trained as a painter and muralist, Portlock borrows conventions of 19th-century landscape painting (especially evident in his Philadelphia series) to situate historic American ideals within larger social and economic forces that shape the physical landscape. His compositional choices, such as aerial views, dramatic light and contrast, ominous skies and horizon lines—traditionally associated with notions of the sublime, the foreboding power of nature and divine hand of god—are blended with the aesthetic of video games, military architecture, panoptic surveillance, and urban blight. Regarding his use of these conventions, the artist has said: “I think about how early American landscape paintings were constructed to look realistic in order to convey a particular set of notions about the American national identity, as if these notions were part of the natural environment. I compare and contrast these visual conventions and ideals expressed in these earlier images with scenes that are familiar to the typical post-industrial American city.”
Tim Portlock (b. Chicago, 1969) lives in Philadelphia and works as a professor of Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College, New York, and, beginning in the fall, at Washington University, St. Louis. Recent solo exhibitions include C.ASH_4_GOLD at The Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art in San Bernadino (2015); Digital Cities at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. (2015); and 11th_street_city_symphony.mp4 at Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia (2013). Portlock has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including, notably, Ruffneck Constructivists, curated by Kara Walker, at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2014); "Spring Break New York" (2015); the 2014 Visiting Curator Exhibition at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, curated by Cecilia Alemani; Here at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (2011); No Soul For Sale at the Tate Modern (2011); International Guerrilla Video Festival Dublin (2009); and This is Not a Gateway, London (2009). He has also exhibited in Japan, Italy, Argentina and Austria. This is his first exhibition at Locks Gallery.