Los Angeles-based artist Matthew Grabelsky creates hyperrealistic paintings with a surreal twist: his subjects are half-human, half-animal, often nonchalantly reading newspapers or magazines on public transport.
Raised in New York City, Grabelsky was inspired by its subway's underground world as the setting for his interesting pairings. His works are an ongoing exploration of how we isolate ourselves from one another – a strange phenomenon on trams, buses and trains that goes against our human nature. Equally powerful is Grabelsky's reference to the state of captivity imposed on wild animals such as tigers, crocodiles and lions. It's as though we've made a prison for ourselves.
Charmingly awkward in their hybrid bodies, his characters encourage us to look up from our books or smartphones and engage with our fellow passengers. "I hope the viewer will stop and reflect on our self-imposed captive condition within our contemporary society," he says.
In his latest series, Passengers, Grabelsky considers the impact of technology. Some of his works are based on the London Underground. He asks, "If we were not always occupied with our smartphones in our hands, would it possible to imagine ourselves looking upwards and towards our 'subway neighbour'?"
On show at London's Dorothy Circus Gallery from 5 December.