The painting could be a study in the many shades and variations of gray. The deepest gather at the top, suggesting storm clouds directly overhead. Lighter grays, and the subtlest hint of pink and gold touch the underside of the clouds and melt away into the distance, right above a thin line of rooftops.
Are those the rooftops of Buenos Aires? Or of Inwood, New York City? Artist Andrea Cukier, who is originally from Argentina and now lives in Inwood, cannot say.
However, one thing is certain: the sky is one part Inwood, one part imagination.
Cukier uses oil on canvas to marry two traditions in her work: abstract painting and moody landscapes.
“I’ve been looking at the sky for years,” said Cukier.
She said the paintings in her latest collection, “Inwood Skies: Imaginary Landscapes,” started as abstract pieces but turned into paintings of the sky.
“I wanted to represent a kind of light. I wasn’t thinking I wanted to represent a sky,” said Cukier. “The sky started getting into my own paintings.”
So what makes an Inwood sky different from the sky anywhere else?
“There’s a certain funkiness that comes with living in Inwood,” said Cukier. She said it had to do with old buildings, some falling apart, gray skies and a melancholic feeling that she is keen to.
Cukier often walks through Inwood Hill Park and Fort Tryon Park.
“I had never been able to get such a connection to a place I’ve been painting,” she said.
And connection to place is important to her work. She describes her painting as an heir to the “Escuela de La Boca.” The style developed among Argentine painters who had settled in La Boca, many of whom were Italian immigrants or immigrants’ children. Artists of this school painted the docks, warehouses and landscape of La Boca.
“From these painters, who paint so austerely scenes from their environments, I have learned the value of an intense emotional engagement with a place,” said Cukier in her artist statement.
“Inwood Skies: Imaginary Landscapes” will be on display at Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion (1150 St. Nicholas Ave.) until Oct. 28. All artwork is for sale.
Visit www.andreacukier.com for more information.