Page N3.2 . 13 September 2006                     
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    Building Paintings


    Nostalgia mingles with reproach in the work of British artist, Hurvin Anderson, who takes postcolonial contexts, such as a deserted country club in Trinidad, and looks into the politics of exclusion in old colonial societies. The bars in the foreground of his painting speak volumes, though the dilapidated state of the building behind suggests that such exclusion is, or should be, redundant.

    French-born Yves Bélorgey has similar preoccupations with buildings of the past, particularly old Bauhaus architecture. His images, like "Alexandra Road," are true to life, but by emphasizing the grand scale of these 1960s housing schemes and then zeroing in on the details — weeds growing, cracks in the concrete, old washing hanging out — his works smack of disillusion: the faded utopian ideals of Le Corbusier.

    Public Art

    These are all very personal images, but the subjects exist quite solidly outside the mental realm. For other artists here, cityscapes and architectural icons become reminiscent of some inner state — often turbulent and chaotic — as they try to reconcile the paradox of physical space with the interior spaces of the mind.

    This exploration is particularly abstract in a painting by Julie Mehretu, whose "Renegade Delirium," a "story map of no location," as she terms it, condenses the dizzying fragments of cities and places in her life. Among references to her home town in Ethiopia and fantastical abstract images are blander shapes, such as the architecture of American shopping malls and airports, all crashing together in acrylic.

    Santiago Cucullu's "Love and Menace in the Big City" has similar ideas behind it, though his chosen themes don't stop at places. Instead the visual hubbub reveals historical events, characters, and popular culture (not to mention decapitated rats and a burnt-out house by Frank Lloyd Wright) in a colorful mural, painted into the architecture of the gallery.

    This kind of explosive, fragmented color takes on a more pop-like persona in "Amaryllis," one of Franz Ackermann's "mental maps," combining the distorted skyscrapers and uninhabited cities of comic-book fantasies.

    Artistic Perspective

    Personal explorations aside, the Archipeinture exhibit also prompts explorations into more-technical implications of space, perspective, and perception. Thomas Huber, in "Halle IV," paints a still life room of realistic yet confusing proportions, causing the viewer to question his representation of things.

    Dutch painter René Daniëls's "bow tie" works from the 1980s offer painterly thoughts on perception, placing the viewer in a certain position. The three examples selected for the show are all formal descriptions of a space, which can be seen as either flattened out like a bowtie or as the architectural view of a room ("Het Huis" and "Memoires van een Vergeetal").

    Phillip Allen goes further abstract with "Interzonal Level Sequence (this is just a test version)," in which he uses thick crusts of paint and geometric shapes to build an illusory world, with confusing dimensions and depths.

    An abstract sculpture and light installation — made for the exhibition by Paris-based Alexandre Ovize — takes architectural forms and unravels them into shapes that can be admired in their own right.


    Meanwhile questions that appeal to other artists relate more formally to the discipline. What is architecture, anyway? What could it be? They challenge commonly held notions and put forward wacky visions of the future.

    Sculptures by architecturally trained Andrew Lewis look like they're either from the set of "Lost in Space," or Homer's Iliad. His cardboard models of imaginary buildings, like "Sasha," aim to ease the complexities of the British urban landscape and suggest playful solutions to housing and transport problems.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Untitled wall painting, 2006, by Silke Schatz.
    Photo: Andy Keate

    ArchWeek Image

    Renegade Delirium, 2002, by Julie Mehretu, courtesy of White Cube, London.
    Photo: Andy Keate

    ArchWeek Image

    Love and Menace in the City, 2006, by Santiago Cucullu; installation view Camden Arts Centre; courtesy of the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery.
    Photo: Andy Keate

    ArchWeek Image

    Love and Menace in the City, 2006, by Santiago Cucullu.
    Photo: Andy Keate

    ArchWeek Image

    Amaryllis, 2003, by Franz Ackermann, from the collection of Sander, Berlin.
    Photo: Andy Keate

    ArchWeek Image

    Halle IV, 2001, by Thomas Huber, from the collection du FRAC Franche-Comté, France
    Photo: Andy Keate

    ArchWeek Image

    Het Huis (The House), 1986, by René Daniëls, from the collection of the René Daniëls Foundation, The Netherlands.
    Photo: Andy Keate

    ArchWeek Image

    Memoires van een Vergeetal, 1986, by René Daniëls, courtesy of Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam.
    Photo: Andy Keate


    Click on thumbnail images
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