Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pedra Branca; New York and painting cities.

Cmbirela with Pedrs Branca, oil on card, 14.5 x 18 cm

Pedra Branca, lost dog, oil on card, 13.5 x 14.5 cm

I watch with a mixture of bemusement, horror and a sort of perverse admiration as I see another town being constructed here. Brazilians have heard of planning, they even have a planned capital, and very striking it is too, and a planned state capital called Curitiba, but plainly urbanism isn`t something they really want to spend too much of their time bothering with, like the British with cooking and dance.


I am trying to set up my New York trip for October. If you can advise on any art contacts, dealers, or galleries that might like my work please let me know.


My painting trips have aways confounded my expectations- generally the better I think it is going to be, the worse it is. And the more preconceptions I have about a place, usually garnered from books, films and photos, conversations. the more the reality surprises, or disappoints me.

Generally small unknown places are best- you arrive there without preconceptions, style uncrampted and after, when looking at your pictures no one can respond- Oh but that`'s not how I remember suchandsuch!

I dislike both shoebox modern glass architecture, and molten wax baroque: neither are fun to paint.  Deco is good- so is austere Scottish Georgian. Both have a clear geometry that catches the light. But Po.Mo is nasty. I agree, if one likes Deco one should probably like Foster and Stirling, but somehow they are displeasing, in part because of their awful palette and insistence on humour (groan).

Trashy make-it-up-as-you-go-along Brazilian slum architecture is fun too, with bright colours. jumble, and blurring between interior and exterior spaces, so the private and the public are not so harshly distinguished. And there is still a street life here, at least in poorer neighbourhoods, something which has been virtually banished from the UK.

My notions of New York are founded on a distant memory of the three day trip there back in 1992, books by Singer, Paul Auster, Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker and Joseph Mitchell; photos by Steiglitz and Feininger and Weegee; films by Woody Allen and Scorsese and songs by Lou Reed.. I.e a peculiar mixture of the sinister and the sentimental and down at heal, or downright squalid, and mostly located between 1920 and 1979.

Much of what I paint in a city is conditioned by where I can comfortably sit, preferably without either traffic bums or salespeople bugging me. Ergo, waterfronts are good, as are cafes at corners and places which are high up. Were I a photographer, my subjects would be considerably different, with much more movement.


  1. These are very good! Keep going!

    1. Thanks Chunbum, I Shall certainly continue. I have some trips planned- always good for inspiration.