Like many North American cities, Vancouver’s downtown core is dominated by the influence of modernist architectural form. These forms originated in the early part of the last century through a combination of new building techniques and a desire by architects to move beyond historical building types towards structures that would define the new machine age. Modernist buildings have come to be defined through their expression of primary form, the removal of decorative elements, increased building heights and extensive use of glass as a building skin. Over time, this modernist architecture combined with urban planning approaches that stressed the consideration of individual buildings as part of an overall ‘cityscape’, foregrounded the way we view and move through and around the city itself.

Enda Bardell utilizes this urban landscape as both a reference and inspiration for her paintings. She is drawn to the individual building elements of pattern, shape and rhythm as well as the relationships between buildings that shift and change as one moves through the city. She captures these fleeting views through photographic documentation, cropping down areas within the photograph to arrive at a source image that can be transformed into an abstract painting.

Once the source image is established, Bardell sketches out the image in pencil, visualizing the colour conceptually in notes she adds to the sketches. The use of colour is fundamental to the paintings, shifting them from straight documentation to dynamic examples of hard edge abstraction, highlighting these works affinities with both modernist architecture and modern abstract art.

Image: Enda Bardell, Drive, Acrylic on canvas, 30x30