Friday, July 28, 2017

A Coney Island Nightscapes Series: Cyclone, & More.

Cyclone, Coney Island, 2017, 26"x 38," watercolor, gouache & pencil on paper.  (c) 2017.
I'm thrilled to announce my participation in a summer invitational at the George Billis Gallery. 525 West 26th Street, Ground Floor, NYC.  The show will be up until August 18. &, everyone is invited!  My painting in the show (shown above) is one of many nightscapes I've painted over the last 4 years and part of a Coney Island series I started last summer.

Urban nightscapes have long been a source of fascination to me.  In particular, I love the way a combination of darkness and electric light can transform massive steel and concrete structures into twinkling, ethereal apparitions:  Perceptions are as affected by light and its absence during the day, as well.  But, the affect is most obvious after nightfall when darkness obscures most physical phenomena and all that can be glimpsed is what little is illuminated by electric lights.

Most of us experience the world visually:  As a continuum of visual impressions and images.  The unreliability of that visual data is of unending fascination to me.  I think Plato's allegory of the cave is the best metaphor to describe the phenomena.  And, my nightscapes are meant, on one level, to be metaphors for the limitations of human perception.  In Plato's allegory the inhabitants of a cave only see shadows cast on its walls; thus, they only partially glimpse reality, but never perceive it in its entirety.  Likewise, after nightfall physical phenomena can only be partially glimpsed.  The rest is guessed or imperfectly remembered from earlier experience and observation.
Parachute Drop & Carousel, Coney Island, 2017, 26"x 38," watercolor, gouache & pencil on paper.  (c) 2017.
I guess I'm partially drawn to Coney Island by the sheer strangeness of the place:  There is certainly nowhere else like it!  There is no practical purpose or utility to it.  Unlike other amusement parks, no unifying theme.  Instead, Coney Island is a consortium of competing amusement ride operators.  Its most prominent structures----its roller coasters and other rides----have no other purpose than to serve up ersatz experience:  Instead of real danger, the rides provide a simulation of it.  And, what a whirlwind of sensory perceptions!  The neon and other illumination all about presents a dizzying array of visuals.  All of which makes Coney Island the perfect subject for a nightscape painter like myself.