Residence: New York, USA
Collaborating Writer: Carl E. Hazlewood
“Every genuinely original artist’s expression is inspired by an obsession that gives birth to a new vocabulary of form. These unique forms originate in the specific and individual experience of the individual artist in question and are governed by historical, cultural as well as psychological factors. This is as true of Picasso as it is of Rubens as it is of Rauschenberg. Andrew Lyght is an unusual artist in that he experienced both the archaic roots of modernism during his boyhood as well as the way in which modernism found freshness in non-Western and archaic cultures. Lyght has made of his dual heritage of the informal and spontaneous pre-modern as well as the modernist tradition an unprecedented synthesis that incorporates the tropical culture into which he was born with his subsequent academic training and exposure to Cubism, Constructivism, and the other major modern movements and masters. His nomadic wanderings and attraction to experiment have resulted in a highly original statement that grows in relevance as West European art becomes part of a mobile global culture that mutates and hybridizes primitive and prehistoric forms with the technological sophistication and art historical self-referentiality.” – Barbara Rose, Art Historian
Structural Paintings _Air Rights NYLyght NY_Hybrid Drawings
Growing up by the sea in Guyana, South America, I often wondered what happened where water and sky meet at the horizon line, creating a sense of limitless distance. To this day, I remain intrigued by this enigmatic phenomenon and its resemblance to pictorial space. It is this fascination that has driven my visual inquiry and practice for more than forty years. During that time, I have physically deconstructed, altered, and reconstructed the picture plane, the frame, and the compositional elements within that frame to better understand and communicate the dynamic nature of pictorial space. I have grappled with the spatial significance of line, plane, volume, and color, placing the viewer within that pictorial space. Each new body of work has explored the limits of the eye by creating an art form that appears to have no fixed boundaries.
Air Rights NYLyght NY, 2009 continues the exploration of the structural nature of pictorial space. New York is both the subject and object of this new series of hybrid works on paper. Like many artists who have moved to New York from elsewhere and have been inspired by the city’s dynamic forces and architecture, I came here to immerse myself in the creative wellspring for which it is renowned. As a young immigrant from South America via Montreal, Canada, just getting to New York represented “a dream come true.” For more than twenty years, I gazed out my loft windows in Brooklyn at the vast unbroken skyline of Manhattan with its majestic skyscrapers against the wide open expanse of sky. This urban landscape never failed to inspire me as I looked at it with amazement and wonder, but it was only when I moved across the river to a friend’s apartment in the heart of Manhattan that I began to see the city itself—streets and walls—as a backdrop for my new work and the skyline as a staging area from which to create it.
This new work seamlessly integrates photography, CAD technology, and drawing. The use of light as both material and subject—has been the key element in this synthesis. To create the proper depth-of-field, I have made use of the city’s ever-changing, densely packed skyline and architectural landscape of skyscrapers, apartment buildings, water tanks, and crowded air spaces as the social arena in which to investigate the city as object. These works also incorporate a longtime fascination with the theatrical play of light and shadow that daily engulfs the cityscape and my desire to interact with it.
Each piece, with its digital photograph of a specific site, is caught in the unfolding drama of the day’s light. The captured images are often architectural fragments—rooflines, slivers of buildings, church spires, and water tanks perched on rooftops. I pay close attention to the endless interplay of light, cast shadows, and reflections that dance across building facades or appear as silhouetted shapes against the open sky. The final work of art is based on the spatial dynamics of these photographic images. I imagine and begin drawing the digitally rendered forms and fabricated structures that inhabit these pictures, then superimpose and insert them onto and into the photographed urban landscape.
Like hot air balloons suspended in the sky, these digitally rendered objects both stand apart from the city and simultaneously become part of it. After printing these new images, I cover the surface of the print with a web of hand-drawn lines to create filigrain atmospheric depth that conveys the creative energy that charges the city’s air spaces. Caught in this web, the buoyant air-structures appear to be right outside the window and miraculously sitting in the narrow air space between buildings. I hope to spark the viewer’s imagination by adding a refreshing, whimsical, thought-provoking element of surprise to the urban environment.