In this two-man show, John Marin and Dale Erispe frame city spots and moments that sharply contrast with the common perception of the urban world as crowded, chaotic and tiresome. The landscapes and genre scenes here take us into unexpected gaps between spaces occupied by man-made structures, and images of people taking a break from the day’s toil or leisurely enjoying the passage of time. These sites and scenes are like urban oases, offering refuge and respite amid the bustling vibe of the metropolis, a kind of break or breathing space when city life becomes almost toxic and suffocating.
Dale Erispe selects city sites that at first glance may appear as rural scenes, except for the presence of infrastructures indicating the intervention of modernity, such as flyovers, bridges, and electric cables. These areas are like voids, intentionally or unintentionally left vacant and open to be occupied in the future or reserved for new constructions. Executed in photographic realism, the sceneries become even more palpable yet haunting at the same time, almost transporting the viewer to the actual locations. John Marin, on the other hand, paints monochromatic images of city people either having leisure or retiring from a day’s work. These candid snapshots focus on people instead of spaces or structures, an approach that complements the emphasis on man’s built environment in the other set of works. All these images belong to the same milieu, and albeit the autonomy of each frame, a sense of continuity runs through the individual works.
The works in this exhibition suggest sites of uneven development even within the heart of the urban world while showcasing people that have not been dehumanized by the frenetic speed of city life. Left unchecked, urban growth can create more spatial and human disparities that possibly lead to healing, if not catastrophe.