Cities bear distinctive personalities, recognizable landmarks, layouts and designs. They burst with their own rhythm, rest in late-afternoon quietude and pulsate with equal parts discord and harmony. History lives in their architecture and alleyways. Some sleep. Others rarely slow down.
While in Vienna, artist Valentin Yordanov found himself missing the lights and newness of Las Vegas—two cities, entirely different worlds. The Bulgarian-born artist had traveled European cities, come to Las Vegas, traveled Europe some more and would return once again to Las Vegas to take up residence. Here his cities coalesced in paintings, each becoming a “non-place,” a familiar and resonant landscape of contemporary urbanism building off the past.
In Terminal at Winchester Cultural Center, Yordanov’s non-places converge in bright colors, dynamic angles and geometric shapes and patterns. Angular, bold and exultant, the large abstract paintings overlap perspectives and motifs, play with color and tone and lead viewers into neighborhoods rendered in reductive and dimensional shapes. In “Mainland” the windows become a city map. In “Terminal” abstractions of architectural and engineering feats cross paths and extend into the sky.
Within the boisterous works are surprisingly tender details that display the depth and character of urbanism, whether it’s the line of a building motif, a steely grid, a long shadow or the hint of a skyline.
Generous with color and unafraid of primaries, Yordanov maps like a draftsman and constructs like a builder in his paintings. In a rare move, he shows his process in smaller works on paper, layering collage-style patterns, drawings and juxtapositions. The assembled works reveal the earlier grids, shapes and lines removed in the finished pieces, bringing in some texture and intimacy. Paintings become large billboards in the gallery, connected by apparatuses made from black vinyl (silhouetted) and placed on the wall.
By mapping cities into non-places, they become the everyplace in form and spirit. But it was the neon, the desert, the mountains and the colors of Las Vegas that influenced the resident of five years in Terminal. “I want the viewer to find their own way, their own place in the painting,” Yordanov says, adding that the exhibit title represents the beginnings of journeys. “The buildings are real, but when I go through the process they lose the geographic location.”
Terminal Through January 8; Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Winchester Cultural Center, 702-455-7340.