Most of us know that riding public transportation is like entering an entirely different world. Whether it’s subways or buses, we’re surrounded by interesting strangers going about their usual lives like ourselves. Nowadays, we typically occupy ourselves with our phones to block out the crowds. Artist Matthew Grabelsky explores this phenomenon in his series of uncanny paintings entitled Passengers.
The artist paints these photorealistic yet surreal paintings to encourage people to disengage from their smartphones and look at the world around them, as you never know what you might see. “I’ve long been fascinated by mythology and specifically by the human-animal hybrids that are found across world mythologies,” Grabelsky explains. “The animals are often used to portray the subconscious, and that is the aspect that I use them for in my paintings.”
Grabelsky admits, “I’ve loved animals since I was a kid, probably as a result of my parents frequently taking me to the zoo and to see the animal dioramas at the Natural History Museum in New York City.” In this particular series, in which he depicts subjects with an animal head and human body, the location also plays an integral role. Although based in Los Angeles, Grabelsky grew up in New York City, where riding the subway is a major part of daily life. It is a common ground for people from all walks of life trying to get from Point A to Point B. For this reason, underground transport is a common backdrop in Grabelsky’s works.
Scroll down to see more images from Passengers. To keep up to date with Grabelsky’s latest creations, you can follow him on Instagram.