Colorful abstract oil paintings look like night shots with bokeh
At first glance, you might think Cape Town-based artist Philip Barlow’s portfolio is filled with stylized nighttime photography. However, a closer look reveals that his work is actually rendered in oil paint. The artist’s incredible series, simply titled Nightfeatures a collection of “blurred” urban scenes covered in colorful neon, confetti-like flourishes.
In photography, this effect is called bokeh. This happens when part of the scene is outside the depth of field and the camera lens captures blurry points of light. The resulting backgrounds of swirling light streaks and colorful shapes make for dreamy, eye-catching images that help draw attention to the main subject. In the case of Barlow’s works, the artist paints nighttime scenes featuring blurry urban buildings, foggy cars, and blurry pedestrians as abstract silhouettes. However, instead of a conventional object as the main subject, Barlow instead celebrates “light”. He explains: “The characters in the landscape serve as carriers and reflectors of the light that falls on them. Bathed in brightness, I hope they will become more beautiful. For me, light is the ultimate subject because it embodies the pinnacle of all reality.
“Although I work in a long tradition of landscape painting,” says Philip, “my depiction of the ‘seen’ landscape is simply a vehicle through which I navigate the territory of another nature. A less ordinary landscape; where the boundary between the physical realm and the spiritual realm has apparently been removed. However, these scenarios are not meant to be surreal in nature. Hopefully they will seem oddly familiar and convincingly real.
Check out more of Barlow’s abstract paintings on his website.
Cape Town-based artist Philip Barlow’s incredible oil paintings look like a stylized nighttime photograph.
Each piece of the Night The series features “blurry” city scenes layered with flourishes of colorful, confetti-like neon light blurs.
resembling the photographic effect, bokehBarlow celebrates “light” as the main subject.