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Smoldering Urban Landscape Paintings Show Beauty in Decay

Artist Brian Mashburn's exquisite oil paintings of broken cities and decaying lands are as beautiful as they are haunting. Mashburn illustrates tangled, leafless branches against a smoldering landscape and heavy sky. Sometimes, we see an animal or person trying to make sense of what's around them. It seems bleak, but the artist does offers a glimmer of hope, and we see patches of blue sky and white clouds among the sepia tones, blacks, and grays.

Mashburn's work explores themes of excess, overpopulation, and the expanding urban environment. Curator Steven Matijcio analyzes his work, writing “Between grandeur and the grotesque, he presents post-apocalyptic visions of the modern world where nature, culture, and industry engage in an ambivalent endgame.”

Inspiration for Mashburn's paintings came from his travels to places like Hong Kong, Thailand, and China, where he found their dense populations and concentrated urban environment problematic yet sublime.The consequences of this type of overabundance not only informs his work conceptually, but in his visual style as well. Mashburn likens his methodical brushstrokes to mass production in factories, and remarks, “In the end, they both produce a polluted, drab landscape.”

Brian Mashburn website
via [Artchipel]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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