A curious emptiness permeates the work of painter Chris Ballantyne. Pulling inspiration from the flat, graphic façades of industrial buildings and cookie-cutter suburban streets, Ballantyne merges elements of the banal with the absurd. Upon closer inspection, the vibrant, delicately rendered landscapes reveal strangeness that showcases the artist’s wry, observation-based humor. A giant cavern appears between bright, friendly row houses, surfers ride breakers down a peaceful mountain stream and a tiny footbridge spans a huge geological tear through a grassy plateau—shifting the viewer’s expectation of what “should” appear in the context of each frame.
His subdued, sophisticated color sense marries well with the stark, simplified structures Ballantyne creates. He intentionally omits visual information in the hopes that viewers will instead focus on the subtlety of each scene, their attention swallowed by the strange beauty of each place. The empty, isolated nature of the subject matter also quietly points to our own relationship to space, built structures and contemporary landscape.