The quaint and historic Union Grove Gallery, in between the Conference Training Center and Morton Hall, hosted an art exhibition entitled “Postcard Cities” created by the assistant professor of painting at the University of Oklahoma, Jason Cytacki. The exhibit concluded Sept. 26 with a closing reception and was open for viewing on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m., Fridays from 12:30 to 5 p.m., or through an appointment. The display consisted of nine oil paintings and two 3D pieces to contrast, along with Cytacki’s artist statement giving some background and ideas to attach to his exhibit.
The scenes depicted an abandoned Midwestern city, coated by the cerulean shade of night. Dimly lit parts of the familiar setting are meant to riddle the viewer with unease and the feeling of looking at a stage in an empty theater. His artwork places you in the moment where you can almost feel the shadows around you moving, deciding what corner to inhabit while life continues on without a sound. Cytacki successfully achieved this perception while simultaneously deceiving the audience until they take a closer look. Upon closer inspection, onlookers notice that the structures within the paintings are actually constructed of cardboard, where Cytacki is suggesting the frailness and unusual structure of life in darkness, on which he articulates in his statement “their fragility and artifice.” In one of his pieces titled “Out of the Blue”, the scene is set with a totalled SUV that has seemingly crashed into a lamp post which faintly illuminates the accident. After looking at the pieces scattered on the ground in front of the car, you begin to notice the corrugation of cardboard where the cracks in the sidewalk usually appear. From there, the fine points are also illuminated, enhancing the viewpoint by creating this abandoned false reality.
His skillfully crafted sculptures are memories reaching back into the childhood everyone experienced. Standing outlined is a classic TV set, small figurines and an old Nintendo handheld all shaded with graphite to give them an unfinished look, mirroring ancient ruins located around the globe. Viewing these statues of memoriam to the days of innocence gives off an eerie atmosphere of the vivid experiences hidden in the back of the mind slowly deteriorating into the forgotten. Cytacki has mastered the art of allowing viewers to escape the harsh reality we have become accustomed to by painting and sculpting specific pieces of life and letting people dive into the otherworldly sceneries.
Cytacki knows how to perfectly capture the viewer’s gaze and simultaneously transport them into a new environment that will give them an entirely new experience in different atmospheres and make them question the lives around them, all with a well-put-together display.