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Capturing the buzz in cities

The Straits Times | Deepika Shetty | Saturday, Apr 12, 2014

Most artists prefer isolation and quiet, but British artist Brendan Neiland thrives on the sounds of a city. He likes the buzz, vibrancy, chaos and sheer energy that only cities can offer.

Neiland, whose paintings are found in major galleries and museums worldwide, including London's Tate Modern and the Boston Museum of Fine Art, says he would be "lost" if he could not paint cities.

City Portraits, his solo exhibition, held at Galerie Belvedere till April 19, is proof that he is quite the urban artist.

The 33 works on display are dynamic reflections of buildings, representing cities on the move.

Prices range from $950 for the silkscreen works to $3,000 for acrylic paintings.

Colourful, vibrant and energetic, several of these works portray steel and concrete structures with reflections on glass. Even when people are part of the artworks, the forms are fluid.

The chatty and witty Neiland, 72, tells Life! that he loves "cities that live". New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai top his list of cities that inspire him with their sheer energy.

"I am very happy in cities. Artists often talk of escape. I do not want to escape. I want to go there and I want to feel a city," says the artist, who spent some time in Singapore in 2001 when Capital Tower in Robinson Road commissioned 12 of his artworks.

He says he is "gobsmacked by the changes in Singapore" since then, but the city still attracts him. "I like to walk in cities and I like the beautiful walkways here. I am also drawn to the complex architecture as well as the efforts to keep many of the buildings the way they are," he adds.

Studying the architecture as well as how people respond to and embrace the cities they live in, he has developed a distinctive style that relies heavily on the buildings and architecture of the places he visits.

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