Cities are fascinating places. Like the termite hills of the human world, we build them according to well laid out plans and designs that have evolved over time. So we do it externally, with paper and pen, and the termites have somehow wired the knowledge into themselves, but the principle is the same. Through our natural behaviour, learned and evolved, we build giant structures of stone, metal, wood, and glass.
Artists turn to the city for many reasons. For some it is the dimensions of the buildings, with perspectives and gradients aligning with the light. For others perhaps it is the people that congregate and walk through. Every face has a story and a list of plans, places to get to. This can all be explored with art, and cities provide excellent material for all these fantasies.
Gwen Yip has created a stunning array of paintings in a collection called Backs. These show people in remarkably bland city scenes, mostly with their backs to us. The angles and lighting play dominant roles in the works, with individuals propping up the scenery with their generously generic presence. We are invited to ask them who they are, and what they are doing. The individuals each have their own subtle symbolic language that can spur leaps of the imagination for us to enjoy.
With selected paintings made in London, New York City, and Hong Kong, the Backs Collection is the latest in a touching and humanitarian portfolio.
But what about cities from the past? Surely they also have interesting stories to tell. The history of our cultures cannot be ignored and as we find ourselves in the present day with systems and traditions, to understand and appreciate why things are as they are we really need to look to the past. By admiring what the previous generations have done for us and what their challenges were, we can begin to see how our cultures today have built upon the wisdom of the past to face the challenges of today.
A new virtual tour website is available online. With excellent quality video, it's possible to sight see the ancient cities of Greece. Supported by the University of Athens, the virtual tours are available for free and are hosted by the Yougoculture website. It's incredibly inspiring to see these places, and if you're like me, it's not easy to travel either. Thanks to the internet we can go for the second best option and not feel too left out.
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