Secrets Beneath Cities: Sculptures Inspired by Nintendo Games

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“The underworld is more fun,” says Luke O’Sullivan, the artist who painstakingly crafts stunning cityscape sculptures with intricate subterranean sections inspired by the seemingly never-ending underground worlds in early Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros. Working primarily in wood and salvaged materials, O’Sullivan creates surreal multi-level spaces with platforms , trapdoors, buckets and ladders. It’s easy to imagine Mario jumping from one area to the next inside, popping out of tunnels, racking up mushrooms and avoiding goombas.

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“My work is about the intersection of built environments and subterranean systems,” says O’Sullivan in his artist statement. “Through the application of screen-printed drawings on wood, metal and other flat surfaces, I create architecturally based sculptures. Often inspired by dystopian and science fiction films, I combine recognizable architectural forms and impossible buildings to create diorama-esque works.”

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The largest piece he’s completed, “Industry, Entropy,” measures ten feet long and took over three years to complete. The artist describes it as a “milestone piece.” This one is wider than it is tall, but others are like individual islands of towering structures that rise high above the surface and plunge deep below it.

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Working in a restrained color palette, O’Sullivan keeps the above-ground sections of the cities relatively two-dimensional, hinting that the more detailed and literally well-rounded world beneath it is what’s really important. These subterranean areas seem full of secret functions, each one brimming with mysteries and begging to be explored. If only we could shrink ourselves down to climb around in them ourselves. See more on Instagram.