Gritty Cities: Oil Painter Captures Cityscapes at Dusk & Dawn

Artist Jeremy Mann works in early in the day or evening, and it shows in the dark, smudged and ultimately riveting way in which he captures streetscapes of major cities from New York to San Francisco.

urban rooftops

Wiping, smoothing and layering oil paints with rollers, sponges and brushes, his works, like urban environments, are executions of complex and chaotic addition, evocative yet forever incomplete pictures of a place. He often applies broad marks with an ink brayer and wipes sections away with solvents. Getting increasingly experimental, he has even tried applying and moving paints with doorstops, window wipers and liquor bottles.

urban street

“Even that banana which turned out to actually be a good blending tool, painting with lettuce, though, I can tell you might be useless,” said the artist in an interview. “In this process of experimenting with tools, an artist inevitably discovers new techniques as a result of accidents and learning how to recognize those accidents as worthy or not, and then harness them or bury them.”

urban street shot

His paintings are as much about capturing the spirit of a place as its details. Rather than appearing as normal paintings, the pieces start to blend and blur, looking more like photographs shot on a rainy day with all the reflections of puddles, drips, and reflections enhanced. If anything, his recent works also seem to be growing more obscured and abstract over time, perhaps in part as his pallete of artistic tools expands.

oil complex painting

As art writer Christopher Jobson explains: “Mann applies and wipes away areas of the canvas to recreate these hazy environments, adding layers of paint back on top of the slightly smeared works with more detailed strokes. This layered effects makes the works appear like double exposed images, two scenes gently blurring into one. The resulting paintings are dark and atmospheric, urban streets seemingly drenched in rain and mystery.”

oil urban landscape

Mann’s work goes beyond just urban landscapes, and some of his pieces can be seen come June in the John Pence Gallery (you can also see more of his work on Instagram and Facebook).