Jeff Brouws photographs of disused railroad rights of ways radiate a certain melancholia.
They are suffused with a sort of natural spirituality you might find in Caspar David Friedrich.
The perspective is aligned with the line of the rail road. We are looking down the line waiting for the train will never come. At the vanishing point of two of the images is a bright coin of light. You miss it if you don’t look closely. Together, the images lend a sense of the traditional paintings or prints of the four seasons. One displays a spring green, another is snow covered.
When I showed my wife the winter image selected for the invitation to the show she asked if they were all sepia like that. Brouws has also provided a vintage map (from well before 1938 when he tells us most of these railroads were shut down) It is a map of rich blue and brown on which the locations where the photographs were made are marked by numbered white pins.
From the Robert Mann gallery in New York:
“In late 2009, Warren Buffett made headlines for investing in the railroad industry, thus marking it with the imprimatur of market confidence. It was a provocative move considering the general disappearance of trains from the national consciousness and the American landscape in general. Earlier that same year, Jeff Brouws began a body of work in which he investigates the forgotten legacy of the numerous competing railroads servicing Dutchess County in Upstate New York during the late 19th Century and into the first-third of the 20th. With The Machine in the Garden, Brouws masterfully shines a light on the vicissitudes of capital that govern the successive layers — material and psychological — of economic and cultural infrastructure.”