The City and the Sublime

On display at Garvey|Simon in New York City through March 24, "Frederick Brosen: Flowers and Facades" juxtaposes the artist's luminous watercolor paintings of New York City with delicate paintings from his new floral series.

“71st Street, West of Broadway, 2017”
(watercolor over graphite on paper, 9.5 x 8 in.)

A native New Yorker, Frederick Brosen is best known for capturing the history, elegance, and grit of the urban landscape from hidden perspectives he seeks out as he bicycles Manhattan at dawn.­ Despite the big-city subject matter, Brosen’s watercolor paintings emanate a profound stillness. Although the work can appear photorealistic in reproduction, when observed closely, his paintings offer soft whispers of the city, without the hustle and bustle — a private New York the artist is sharing with his audience. Looking up from a sidewalk vantage point, the viewer is immersed in the architectural landscape with its geometric intersections of lines, curves, and colors.

“Second Avenue at 77th Street, 2017”
(watercolor over graphite paper, 10 x 9 in.)

Brosen’s keen process of observation and his distinct familiarity with his subjects allow him to capture and enhance subtle architectural details. His compositions benefit as much from what he edits out as what he adds from his imagination. Where he might remove elements that distract from what he wants to convey, he’ll add imagined features to balance the images.

“Central Park West at 106th Street, 2017” (watercolor over graphite on paper, 10 x 8.75 in.)

In stark contrast to his cityscapes where it’s hardly ever seen, the artist’s floral paintings celebrate nature in all its glory. The artist began occasionally drawing and painting flowers over 30 years ago and increased his focus with each new work.  While his paintings are specific, Brosen’s goal is not one of scientific accuracy, but instead a synthesis of movement and flow, of texture and luminosity.

floral painting
“Crabapple Blossom, 2016” (watercolor over graphite on paper, 6.5 x 4.75 in.)

Each painting in the new floral series contains a single species of flower in bloom against a background of crisp blue sky; the organic forms and soft textures complement the geometric compositions of the cityscapes. Together, the flowers and facades highlight Frederick Brosen’s distinctive use of light and mastery of watercolor.

flower painting
“Sargent Cherry, 2017”
(watercolor over graphite on paper, 6.5 x 4.5 in.)

The artist’s floral paintings (on display for the first time) and watercolor cityscapes are on display at Garvey|Simon gallery in New York City through March 24th in an exhibition called Frederick Brosen: Flowers and Facades.

flower painting
“Apple Blossoms, 2017”
(watercolor over graphite on paper, 7 x 5 in.)

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