Autopia

Writer Joan Didion once observed that in order to understand the urban city, one needed to immerse themselves in the freeway experience, “the only secular communion Los Angeles has.”

Our familiar rivers of concrete and steel no longer represent urban America's shared experience of freedom, daily commutes and gridlock.  Photographed from above and over-painted in vibrant colors, this series of paintings transforms aerial freeway interchanges from a conflicted reality into graphical and poetic artworks, with mythical historic landscapes that recall our agricultural past.  

The idealized landscape, painterly brushwork, flattened and shifting horizon lines, and seductive colors recall Wayne Theibaud’s Sacramento River Delta series and Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park works.

To create these works, I shot aerial photographs from a blimp or helicopter.  The images were digitally-enhanced to add or remove cars, re-work the landscape and at times, add or remove freeway lanes.  The resulting image was printed on archival watercolor paper and painted using oil or acrylic.

Watch a short film here by Eric Minh Swenson on the artist painting and discussing these works.