"Five Jump Ten" seems an obvious reference to the five figures jumping from windows of an apartment building to the unseen street below. Caught in midair, their exuberant, inexplicable leap is embellished with comical surrealist elements like a flying piece of cake and the descent of a crumpled tube of paint. Up high, a yellow car noses out of a window upside down, while below an open hydrant gushes water and flames shoot up from a trash-filled oil drum.
FeBland makes ironic comments about the impersonality of city dwelling. In "Viewmaster," a row of people looking through the lenses of long distance viewing machines are so wrapped up in what they see, that they don't notice the violence of a woman being molested on the ground behind them. They are also oblivious to the fascinating world right in front of them, here represented by two Syrian women in traditional dress sitting on a bench.
In a couple of the larger paintings, FeBland introduces the little people. "New York Midgets" looks like a twisted fusion of The Borrowers and The Fifth Element. Human scale figures -- a mother and her baby in a stroller, a pizza delivery boy and a female executive -- crowd the scene, unconscious (except for the astonished baby) of their threat to diminutive figures below. A Styrofoam cup of coffee dropped by the hurried exec imperils a pint-sized nurse wheeling an ancient patient to some unknown destination. Tiny taxis and space vessels fly by like worrisome gnats, becoming fractional harbingers of a mixed up future metropolis.
Painter Stephen Magsig presents the perfect response to FeBland's bright-colored, bounding hip hop New York. His silent urban street views, not meant to be photorealist, nonetheless capture a true sense of place. There's not a person in sight; people are a presence that is absent in his gray-toned storefronts and intersections.
"56 Crosby Street" studies a columned facade. "53 Greene Street" examines steel girders that edge a row of wood-faced buildings. The red and green geometry of "203 Mott Street" reveals Chinatown. Sunlight and shadows sculpt the buildings, lending an Edward Hopper tinge to these works. Reflections in parked car windows add layers to the view. The artist clearly reveres the environment he subdues and documents in paint. There's a ghostly nostalgia about some of his streetscapes, as though they have ceased to exist.
Magsig's finely rendered paintings reflect on the moody beauty of urban architecture, while LeBland's street life scenes shout with the crazy energy of the city. From either perspective, their New York narratives feel like an uneasy dream of Atlanta's own imminent past.
Urban Aesthetics will be on view through Aug. 19 at Bender Fine Art, 309 E. Paces Ferry Road, Suite 140. 404-842-1913.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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