The American urban infrastructure has inspired various artists throughout the second half of the 20th century as they explored the notion of getaway and alienation. No wonder this particular phenomenon invigorated artists' imagination as it mirrored numerous social and political implications.
Inspired by scenes encountered in several American states during his road trips, the young Basque artist Íñigo Sesma produces unique, cinematically inclined paintings saturated with unobtrusive social commentary. These remarkable everyday scenes evoke the void, isolation, and emptiness in a figurative fashion similar to the art by one Edward Hopper.
This month, Sesma’s solo exhibition at PDP Gallery in Paris will bring his series called Promised Land to light, to underline the way the artist articulates this particular approach to themes that seem to haunt him throughout his painterly practice.
Iñigo Sesma is no stranger to the urban experience as he emerged out of urban art. By perceiving the studio as a fluctuating thing in a constant movement, the artist instantly engages with contemporaneity and pushes figurative painting as a particular tendency forward.
The upcoming exhibition is surely a continuation of his explorations of the genre as he connects with the American tradition of social realism and regionalism. Drizzled with social agency and infused with a dose of romanticism, his masterfully executed paintings unravel all the soft spots of the American society such as the class discrepancy and the commodification of everyday experience.
Sesma presented the first works featuring crossing of the United States from the East Coast to the West Coast within his solo exhibition called Unpaved Paradise in California in 2018. Back then, the artist felt inspired by the Ash Can School and American urban scenes, and that is when he presented a refined documentary approach that envelopes further with these works made during 2020.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the artist leaves Baltimore to return to New York, the city of special relevance for his artistic development. From Ohio to Arizona by Missouri, he encounters different places that feed his imagination that becomes fully loaded in Pennsylvania where Sesme discovered astounding settings where time and life have stopped.
Reminiscent of Jack Kerouac's road trips or even the atmosphere found in the works by Ed Ruscha, these intriguing paintings act as postcards from a world that has already transformed into something else; a reality that has become a caricature, a bitter joke that is hard to believe.
Iñigo Sesma’s melancholic depictions seem particularly subversive in regards to the paradigm of the American dream that shatters into pieces in the times of pandemic, racial tensions, and general political turmoil that is about to culminate with the American presidential elections this November.
Promised Land will be on display at PDP Gallery in Paris from 17 October until 1 November 2020.
Featured image: Iñigo Sesma - Joan, 2020. Oil on canvas, 58 x 77 in. All images courtesy of the artist and PDP Gallery.