Colourful Cityscapes

Urban landscapes are not always grey and monotonous. When looking closely, our closest cities can turn into playgrounds of shadow and light, shining with eye-popping colours. Here, we present a list of photographic images and digital prints from the Aesthetic Art Prize that highlight the vivid hues around us.

Michael McLaughlin, 2023

The Port of Wakkanai is Japan’s most northern coastal base – a popular site for offshore fishing and a major transport hub. Ireland-based Michael McLaughlin’s dramatic landscapes detail industrial holding tanks from this vast oceanscape. These works, including Blue Silo Hokkaido, convey a sense of unblemished abstraction, imagination and experimentation by obscuring the subject matter. Common vistas are reconfigured with ambiguous shapes, forms and patterns. The artist’s portfolio describes complex realities of the environment and humanity’s intrusions on it.

Natalie Christensen, 2023

Eight years ago, photographer Natalie Christensen left her career as a psychotherapist, exchanging her profession for architectural landscapes that recall psychologist Carl Jung’s philosophies of the unconscious. Empty parking lots, forgotten swimming pools and open doors attract viewers to the scene, asking them to reassess everyday settings with a new vision, colours and shapes that hide in plain sight. The collection twists viewers’ perceptions of familiar experiences. Pink concrete slabs, are pushed to the edge of the frame to segment the sky, producing a flat, geometric pattern.

George Byrne, 2022

George Byrne creates large-scale images that depict Californian landscapes as painterly abstractions. Comparable to the works of Lewis Baltz and Ellsworth Kelly, Byrne’s collage-like photographs utilise the process of reduction; flattened lines and interjectory shadows become part of a wider dimensional puzzle that revels in texture. The images provide an interplay between concrete and colour that is at once minimal and complex. Lately, Byrne has focused on the intricacies of the subconscious mind by tapping into dreams and symbols. This process embraces the less literal aspects of photography.

Anna Carey, 2021

Anna Carey is an Australian artist based in Los Angeles. Her work is created by travelling to foreign places and encountering familiar architectural spaces. Lost In Paradise present a generic architectural style and imaginative global dream memory. Through model making and photography, Carey intends to reawaken the imagination and heighten the blurred state one can experience when transitioning between familiar places in the world. These are spaces where the imagination is left to wander.   

François Aubret, 2020

With the development of Modernism, “beauty” is a word that has fallen out of favour. We prioritise functionality and efficiency in detrimental ways. But beauty is what creates a visceral reaction whether through a piece of art or an object. In contrast to the homogeneity of urban environments, François Aubret’s work restores a hidden sense of beauty. He compose architectural, urban and natural elements within vibrant photographic designs. After working as an exhibition designer, Aubret decided to direct my creative energy into an artistic practice. His background in design influences the way he looks at surroundings. This is where his sensibility for architectural details comes from.

The Aesthetica Art Prize is open for entries. Submit your work to win £10,000, exhibition and more.

Image credits:

1. Image courtesy Natalie Christensen and Setanta Books.

2. Michel Mclaughlin, Blue Silo Hokkaido.

3.Natalie Christensen, a good day,(2017). Dimensions variable.

4. George Byrne, Yellow Door (2021). Digital photograph. Dimensions variable.

5. Anna Carey, Lost In Paradise 2019, 84 x 125cm, Digital print

6. François Aubret, France.