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Los Santos – Artist Statement


In Exit West, Mohsin Hamid describes scrolling through social media, and surfing the internet as a type of travel – as an escape from one’s immediate surroundings. Video games offer a similar transportation. The player is often immersed in a beautifully created and richly detailed world. In sandbox games, where one can explore an open map at their leisure, the game play experience often includes wandering into unknown territory – exploration. 


The paintings in this exhibition take the videogame world as their subject. Each image was painted from observation of a location in Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV). The paintings were approached with a plein air spirit. They celebrate the everyday beauty in the virtual world of Los Santos. 


I have chosen GTAV as the subject for this work for several reasons. First, it is a vast open world that can be explored freely. Secondly, the GTAV map offers a number of landscapes and cityscapes that look and feel like contemporary spaces – particularly those spaces in and around west coast cities like Los Angeles, or San Diego. This allows the paintings to exist, on the surface, as true plein air painting. Thirdly, I have selected this game because it is well known for its glorification of crime and violence. The juxtaposition of this aspect of the game, with the beauty and complexity of the world that its set in offers a uniquely potent subject. 


“Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision, it is the seeing of it that make it so.” Charles W Hawthorn. 

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