Mathew Borrett’s Imagined Dystopian Cityscapes Are Both Unnerving And Whimsical

Toronto-based illustrator Mathew Borrett creates imagined cityscapes that are inspired by a love for both architecture and fantasy.

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“I hope that a viewer will be able to put themselves in my spaces,” he relayed in an interview with Line Gallery. “To that end, I’ve avoided adding any figures of any kind to inhabit the rooms, so the viewer is free to imagine themselves inhabiting them if they choose.”

According to Borrett, some people find his spaces claustrophobic, while others want to linger inside them. “I enjoy the combination of the creepy and the whimsical,” he admits. “Perhaps this boils down to wanting my drawings to be haunted in the same way that my dreams locales often feel haunted.”

Borrett has made a name for himself both online and offline, working as an illustrator as well as an environment/concept artist in the film and TV industry.

“I hesitate to talk about how much dreams inspire my work, since its almost a cliché and boring to listen to, but it can’t be understated,” he says, talking about his sources of inspiration. “There’s a kind of magic vitality there that’s almost impossible to put into words, and images can only hint at it. So yes, its possible to read a lot into the work psychologically speaking.”

But aside from being a product of his dreams, his artwork is also the outcome of a lifelong obsession with Legos, hay forts, and computers. “I was born in 1972 and grew up in rural Ontario,” he writes on his website. “I was fortunate to have a big ancient barn to play in. Despite an acute allergy to hay, I would build elaborate hay forts. There were woods and beaver ponds nearby to explore. During those weeks of the summer when too much pollen was about, I’d retreat to my room where I would draw, build elaborate things out of lego, and make primitive computer graphics on my Commodore 64.”

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