In 2015 I completed a series of paintings showing rooftops in Manhattan from a bird’s-eye point of view. This continued my exploration of patterns found in the city - any city - which had previously focused on street level imagery. On first glance the paintings appear to be abstract compositions but as the viewer perceives the dramatic shadows and glimpses of roads between buildings, they are transformed into rooftop landscapes. (Each of the pieces includes an underlay of collaged street posters, most of which were found on walls in Manhattan.)
At a public opening in my San Francisco studio the paintings generated a lot of interest, especially amongst young people employed in the tech industry, perhaps because of the role Google Earth had played in my discovery of secret spaces above the city streets.
This body of work was created for, and shown at, a gallery in Chelsea in Manhattan. But to my surprise the paintings were not successful in New York. Feedback from the gallery told me that they didn’t sell because they fell into an “uncomfortable zone” between abstraction and representation.
I can’t be sure how the age-group or the occupation of viewers differed between San Francisco and New York locations but I wonder if people who work in technology understand “flattened” images differently? And was the link between this series and my previous work (Patterns in the City. 2014. Solo show, NY) sufficiently apparent?
These things happen and can turn out to be great learning opportunities. Most of the paintings have now returned to my studio and I will live with them for a while. Our separation may bring a greater understanding.