Date(s) - March 06, 2018 - April 06, 2018
All Day

While architects organize their sketches into designs with the final objective of realizing them in a physical state, other visionaries explore architectural caprices with no real expectation that they will ever be built to scale. In these cases, the constraints of geometries or perspective that would feature in site or floor plans, elevations, cross-sections, and axonometric projections – let alone the technical requirements of the materials themselves – hold less sway. The imagination can run more freely if the two-dimensional image is not intended to serve as a blueprint that crystallizes design concepts into a coherent and buildable structure.

Astounding technical advances in computer software – now the default medium for producing architectural drawings – have been paralleled by similarly impressive gains in engineering and innovative materials usage; as a consequence, there are few designs that today really remain unbuildable. Therefore, those projects described as visionary architecture appear to be so defined as a result of socio-cultural and economic parameters, rather than those inherent in the designs themselves.

This exhibition brings together the work of five artists, each with significantly distinct aims yet whose creative expressions nonetheless are unified by their architectural references. Four have had little if any expectation that their fantastical designs would actually be constructed; the fifth is a photographer who has spent years documenting the built environments of self-taught artist-architects.

They include Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin (both born 1955, Moscow), who in the eighties and early nineties collaborated on the production of an elaborate series of fantastical drawings of structures that they knew would never be built, blurring the line between art and architecture; Olalekan Jeyifous (b. 1977), a Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist, who has been inspired by the existing cityscapes of his homeland to reimagine them in ways that address real challenges of housing, transportation, and delivery of resources; Achilles G. Rizzoli (1896 – 1981), son of poor Italian immigrants, who was inspired by the grandiosity of San Francisco’s 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition to create a utopian new world, designed in grand Beaux-Arts style; and Fred Scruton (b. 1956), professor of photography at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, whose images of American art environments – architectural structures created over a period of decades without preconceived plans or preliminary maquettes – reveal the profundity of his own artistic engagement with the work of these self-taught artist-builders.

Whether the intent with these fascinating architectural designs in two and three dimensions was to imagine a utopian paradise, to express religious fervor, to assuage trauma, or to provide an avenue for thoughtful consideration of altering cityscapes to better address the very real challenges of our modern world, the flights of fancy taken by these visionaries, eschewing a functional tether, can open us to a new world of aesthetic consideration.

In conjunction with the opening of this exhibition, Olalekan Jeyifous and Fred Scruton will discuss their work in a free public lecture to be held in Art #133 on January 30, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. The opening reception, held immediately afterward in the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery on the SJSU campus 6:00 -7:30 p.m, is also free and open to the public. Alexander Brodsky/Ilya Utkin’s works are on loan courtesy the Ronald Feldman Gallery (New York City), and those of Achilles G. Rizzoli are courtesy the Ames Gallery (Berkeley, CA).

LOCATION: Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery

Art Building, San José State University

(Near 9th /San Carlos Streets)

EXHIBITION DATES: March 6 – April 6, 2018

OPENING RECEPTION: Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery

Art Building, San José State University

Free and open to the public


Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

SJSU Campus, Art Building Lecture Hall, Room #133

Free and open to the public

GALLERY HOURS: Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday evenings 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

(and by appointment)

FURTHER INFORMATION: Jo Farb Hernández, Director

Natalie And James Thompson Art Gallery, Art Building #127
March 06, 2018 - April 06, 2018
All Day