Out of Focus: Blurred Street Scenes Capture Cities as Cinematic Moments

Like stills from some rainy noir film, these paintings are deceptively realistic in part due to their abstraction — unresolved details look like a trick of the lens rather than the work of a brushstroke.

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Philip Barlow‘s canvases capture all the elements we expect to see on an urban stroll — cars, people, street lights — but renders them into a haze familiar to photographers (and perhaps those who have had too much to drink).

Individual figures and other details blend together into a rainbow of colors against the night sky. Figure crosses ground. “The figures in the landscape serve as carriers and reflectors of the light that falls upon them,” says the artist. “Bathed in the luminosity, it is my hope that they would become more beautiful. To me, light is the ultimate subject because it embodies the pinnacle of all reality.”

“Although I work within a long tradition of landscape painting,” explains Barlow, “my depiction of the ‘seen’ landscape is simply a vehicle through which I navigate territory of another nature. A landscape less ordinary; where the line between the physical and the spiritual realm has seemingly been removed.”

However, these scenarios are not intended to be of a surreal nature. Hopefully they will seem curiously familiar and convincingly real.” Indeed, the more abstract the individual work, the more realistic it seems to appear.