Andy Cropper – Uncertain Spaces: Spirits of Place and Foreshadowing

'Gregory House' by Andy Cropper - a painting of a tower block in Sheffield in the evening light - oil and acrylic on canvas, 100cmx100cmMuggers Bridge by Andy Cropper - a detailed painting of steps up to a footbridge at nightPhotograph of Andy Cropper at work in his studio



4 July to 3 October 2020

Andy’s “Uncertain Spaces” project comes from his interest in the cityscapes and landscapes of Sheffield with a particular focus on the night-time city. Looking at forms, spaces and places that many may consider mundane or marginal the scenes painted show the world he exists within. Some of them are immediately recognisable. Others fall into a unique space of appearing to be depictions of specific places that could exist anywhere, if not everywhere, yet paradoxically existing in a sort of unknown ‘other’ place too. The paintings become symbols of mystery, about observing an uncanny atmosphere of uncertainty within the spaces of daily life. These urban spaces are within Sheffield but in many ways they could be depictions of anywhere in the contemporary UK and beyond. They all seem to embody a tension or presence, a ‘genius loci’ – a spirit of place.

Devoid of people, most of his paintings have a sense of the forlorn and world weary with an eerie sense of places having been left behind. Unexpectedly, as Andy began this project in 2016, the paintings foreshadow the effects of the recent COVID-19 lockdown and the temporary empty appearance of urban spaces in Sheffield and beyond.

Though on first inspection Andy’s work appears to be photographic, he is a “realist” painter instead of a “photorealist”. He intentionally depicts his cityscapes without hiding his mark-making by elimination with a blended photographic perfection. This creates a slippage in his work which can be hard to describe at first where the paintings slip between realist representations and very clearly hand made painted objects. His paintings can take a long time in creation, consisting of 9 distinct layers. The interaction of the layers help build towards a feeling of vibration and life, as can be seen in his rendering of light and shadow.

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