Faceless in the Tube

Date: 2018-2019

Medium: digital

Size: 1536 x 2048 px

I have spent a couple of hours daily in the London underground for the past two years, resulting in hundreds of digital drawings. In this period, this environment has clarified my own perception as part of the city and its dwellers.

I remember that the lack of interaction in this medium felt alienating at first. That shock lasted for several months after I first started my journeys. That was one the reasons I resorted to drawing. My first sketches started with exhaustive reference lines on a colour background, to which I later added further detail with stronger digital brushes, carefully reflecting the individualities in the coach. Some of those guidelines can still be seen in the finished painting. The works were colourful and lively, in a way therapeutic, but they were never a reflection of the place I was living in. They were too happy, circumvent and humane.

Progressively, I started to feel more prepared to face the livid monochrome passengers, and slowly began to forget their subtleties. I no longer cared to find a prospective eagerness for interaction. Only noticeable in brief eye contacts, apparently casual body posture corrections and momentary judgemental facial expressions. Their initial stiffness and apparent disregard were no longer a seductive barrier to break. I no longer had the impulse to draw imposed colourful and fictitiously vibrant scenes, I could just start painting the faceless without thinking on the choice of colours, the tools or sizes of brushes. I was starting to come to terms with my new ecosystem.

By the end of this journey, I feel my most recent drawings are a much more accurate depiction of what the London underground represents for me – a place of surrounding solitude, spectral and homogeneous, where only a vaguely sympathetic glimpse or a brief rest away from the smartphone episode reveals the internal despair and -perhaps imaginary- need for connection that make this characters alive. I don’t even need to sneak out of my iPad screen anymore. I can now sense the loud and pressing feelings of Londoners pouring from their grey interface in full colour while I wear my headphones and keep my head low to draw, pretending no-one is paying attention.

Faceless in the Tube