Part of the fun of browsing art on Instagram for both cognoscenti and laypersons is perusing diverse art without a lot of explanatory or promotional noise—although all that is usually easily accessible via links from main feeds, should one be so inclined. It’s especially conducive to “discovering” artists without previous exposure via expanding art cyberspace networks that are inevitably changing the BC (Before COVID) mainstream art-world order. That is not to say that any of the artists I’ve engaged on the platform in some depth are “unknown” – it’s a very mixed bag and relative, in terms of literal and metaphorical territorial spectrums. I’ve been avoiding the big international purveyors with massive publicity machines. Instead, guided by recommendations, hashtags, themes, or moods, I am delimiting my sessions variously.
At the start of summer, an image of Nathan’s fast food joint on a Coney Island strip at dusk drew me to Frederick Brosen ((New York), aka @frederick_brosen). Brosen is a currently nostalgic native New Yorker, as per his accompanying text musing and several other posts featuring similar Coney Island street corners and food joints over time. In fact, the masses of urban beachcombers that will be missing this year (although the boardwalk is open with restrictions) are not indicated in Brosen’s clipped neighborhood views, passersby, however, are included. His juxtaposition of the neon signage with the twilight sky, and watercolor applications, alternately in subtly gradated layers and saturated passages over tightly drawn compositions, entices and coalesces into a uniformly focused surface. Other fairly recent posts turn to views of Paris, and earlier, other European and NYC locales, collectively spanning over a decade, through which an aesthetics of graphic stillness is consistent.
In the phone/laptop viewfinder, this travelogue of mainly small-scale pictures implies a deconstruction of postcard panoramas with iconic highlights through the emphasis on oblique street-level views.
Soon enough, I was poring over more, equally impressive paintings of architecture. Those of Marie Lenclos, ((London), @marielenclos_paintings), are similarly done in an intimate yet hard-edged form. Her oeuvre is geometrically inclined, comprising mainly light-industrial-type facades and some closely related abstract compositions.
Her simplified, linear-oriented approach and a stony palette of brick, slate, cement, and occasional pastel, recall American Precisionists like Charles Sheeler. Like them, Lenclos portrays actual sites, which, however, speak to the generic machine-age infrastructure that remains familiar in many communities globally, in terms of economic and literal stability and mobility.
The Futurist freneticism of Carlos Azanedo, ((Los Angeles), @carlos.azanedo), is at the opposite extreme of urban consciousness and sensibility of both of Brosen and Lenclos. In his blurred and shiny cityscapes, Azanedo incorporates a swept brush technique across his canvases, in way distantly related to that of Gerhard Richter. This infused movement is furthered by wiry, fragmented lighting bouncing around mirror-glass towers, slick thoroughfares, and night skies. Specific skylines and mappings are sometimes suggested in alternative takes of perspectival and birds-eye views. But, ultimately, Azanedo’s overall vision veers towards internationalist metropolitan mash-ups.
Although there are few images of people per se across the art discussed, all indicate life in close proximity to others and, in a new way, isolation together — through shared experiences of specific places and more broadly, highly populated environments. Well worth a tour.