Enrico Miguel Thomas has been dubbed “The Subway Artist of New York.” (The tagline even appears at the bottom of his e-mails.) That’s because he can often be found
making drawings of subway stations throughout the city—and he has created hundreds of them in the past few years.
In his practice and his style, Thomas is a kind of post-post-Impressionist. He works quickly, propping his easel on sidewalks and inside the transit system (72nd Street, Union Square, and 34th Street-Herald Square are favorite depots) to compose lively pictures in colored marker, sometimes on white paper and sometimes on free subway maps provided by Metropolitan Transit Authority attendants. These humble materials are meant to demonstrate that you don’t need money to make art.
Stripes and slashes imply the hurried movement of commuters darting up and down stairs and trains swooshing in and out of stations. Stillness in these pieces often comes in the form of token booths or hot-dog carts—their boxy structures offering a sense of stability. Other times, passengers themselves are static, as in an illustration of two homeless men in puffy coats snoozing upright on a bench on the Union Square platform. Whether hidden or loosely sketched, faces never have much detail in Thomas’s art, as he concerns himself with entire spaces rather than individual personalities. These works fit in perfectly at the City Reliquary, a place as devoted to preserving and displaying New York’s oddities as Thomas is to recording the vivacity of the subway ecosystem.
Art Review by Trent Morse of Art News Magazine Copyright 2012
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