Window to New York

Apart from some time spent painting in Europe, most of my career has been concerned with the Australian landscape, so the decision to spend 3 months in New York painting the urban landscape, or cityscapes, was not taken lightly.

It proved both terrifying and exhilarating. The terrifying part, was all of those straight lines, tedious to paint and probably even more so for potential viewers.

Of course, some of the impressionists handled the problem brilliantly, with their broad brush, no nonsense approach, but I was looking for another solution.

I had visited New York briefly a year earlier, in winter. On a bitterly cold January morning, I took a “touristy” cruise around Manhattan. With the below freezing temperature outside and we warm tourists breathing furiously inside, of course the windows misted up and there it was. A beautifully diffused image with abstract qualities which was in fact, totally figurative.

I had produced similar images years before, the result of a painting trip on a house boat on the Hawkesbury River in the winter of 2004.

As children, we have probably all drawn a “smiley face” on a wet window with our finger. Well, this adult is still doing it. I use this idea to represent and simplify otherwise complex and iconic structures. This approach helped not only with the grand Manhattan skyline, but perhaps even more so with the smaller, intimate corners of my local Brooklyn neighbourhood. In these works I’ve deliberately painted every detail, of. For example, our local Deli & then selectively obscured them with glazes (condensation). This, I hope creates intrigue for the viewer, giving room for interpretation and imagination.

It is also fair to say, that these works truly represent my memories of New York. This old brain has warm, general recollections but some of the detail is misty.

Brendon Darby

Linton & Kay Galleries
“Window to New York” was on show at Linton and Kay Galleries, Perth, Western Australia in 2010.