Temporary City examines abandoned spaces and the people who claim them. Haikyo I and II reference the Japanese concept of modern ruins and associated subculture of urban exploration. Urban explorers occupy vacant spaces temporarily, in accordance with their own code of behaviour, but outside the law. As the first figure to appear in these landscapes steps into the frame of Haikyo I, the viewer is invited to wander through history’s freshest set of ruins. What we once experienced as new becomes part of the past: a meditation on Modernism in decline.
A series of four paintings of a single abandoned house illustrates a property whose claim is disputed. Urban artists scrawl their names in paint across the facade; property managers respond with hastily-applied coats of house paint. The result is a dialogue about legitimate occupancy of our neighbourhoods, or a battle against egotistical vandalism, depending upon your perspective. The ongoing argument in paint documents the final days of a place, and reasserts the power of pigment on a board to provoke a passionate response.
Documentation is not the only objective in the new works. Details are amplified, eliminated, or moved around. Scenes appear that feel familiar, but not specific. Whimsical architecture from alien settings appears alongside images of the stucco bungalows of South Edmonton.
Greater integration of fantastic elements creates a dramatic scene in Awake. Masterpieces by Barnett Newman and Peter Doig appear in the windows of a neighbourhood building, beside a bungalow whose roofline is distorted to the 53⁰ angle which fascinated Newman, and windows boarded up by painted rectangles. The legacy of Modernism is presented as an old house, full of memories, its future uncertain. A large graffiti tag appears on the adjacent bungalow, as the property owner and the artist argue over who may claim it.
An evolution in the physical process is apparent in the new paintings. Greater transparency and fewer layers of paint present a clear vision of the urban architectural landscape. Visible painting ground and drawing marks describe the scene alongside layers of pigment, laying bare the architecture of the images and allowing the physical properties of the medium to be both seductive and descriptive. As the artist reflects on the legacy of Modernism, there is a struggle to reconcile flat painting with the illusion of space, abstraction with description, the triumphant climax of painting with its inevitable continuation.