Life in the modern metropolis is thrown into heady cinematic relief in British painter-printmaker John Duffin’s evocative oil paintings and etchings. In his latest series, City Noir – Vanishing Points, he draws inspiration from the dramatic tones and moods of Film Noir to throw 21st-century urban landscapes into bold relief.
Going on show at For Arts Sake on 3 November, the exhibition will feature new works of London landmarks including Borough Market, King’s Cross St Pancras, Bar Italia, Foyles bookshop, Park Royal Underground and the Hoover building.
With echoes of Edward Hopper and L.S. Lowry in his work, Duffin is a masterful storyteller of life and the human condition in the modern metropolitan city.
Fascinated by cinematography, film stills, edits and camera angles since childhood, Duffin recalls a love for black and white films on his parent’s television set and the growing appeal of Film Noir: “It seemed to take all of the elements of image-making and stretch them further. Camera angles were wider, lighting was starker, and soft and hard focus was extreme – it was also contemporary and showed an exaggerated version of the actual world outside.”
Using experimental, often giddy, vantage points Duffin’s pieces see his figures subsumed by the energy and scale of urban life. Yet at the same time, their small stories are writ large, as if for the silver screen.
“I am drawn to acute angles and horizon lines, always subconsciously tracking the literal vanishing points of buildings, roads and planes in my images,” he says.
“The title ‘Vanishing Points’ also conjures the disappearance and submersion of the figures in the architecture and spaces in the city. They are in some way literally vanishing into the energy, shape and mass of the organic cityscape around them. It’s an artistic description of a physical effect in the work and also a metaphor for the lives of the figures depicted.”
City Noir – Vanishing Points launches on 3 November at the For Arts Sake gallery in Ealing, London, and runs until 26 November. Entry is free and all works will be available for sale.
All images courtesy of the artist and For Arts Sake