The Master Gallery

May 1 – July 25, 2020

Urban Stratum

Photography by Donald Billinkoff

While not formally trained as an artist, my art is directly informed by my work as an architect. The subject matter of my photos is architectural, urbanistic and graphic. And manipulating texture, proportion, massing and color is intrinsic to both architecture and art.

While studying architecture at UCLA, I was intrigued by color photocopy machines and used them to duplicate and manipulate images.  In the 90’s Robert Rauschenberg’s work inspired me to explore ink transfers and I began experimenting with collage, lifting images and text from The New York Times Magazine and reapplying them, producing layered images and typeface. But much like the early collages of the 20th  century, the individual components of the work read as discrete applied elements.  While I took satisfaction from the graphic quality of those early pieces, they often seemed a bit more craft than art.

J. C. Heywood, a Canadian printmaker, led me to experiment with printmaking.  His images have the complexity of collage but are achieved through printmaking rather than layering physical images.

My early interest in color copying expanded to include high resolution photo printing, digital photography, scanning, large format printing and Photoshop. I began to marry the hands-on quality of my magazine collages with a new process for creating them. The process still began with The NYT Magazine, but now I layered the inks and paint on both found images and my own photos.  The copy machine, scanner and computer allowed me to manipulate scale.  Texture was implied, and by using Photoshop the colors were more saturated.

Recent work borrows the texture and coloration of those earlier collages, but embraces the photo (almost always taken with an iphone) as the underpinning of the work. The process begins with a highly textured urban image: scarred pavement, peeling paint, graffiti, kinetic signage, complex electrical assemblages, vintage cars and trailers, building surfaces or construction debris.  Some elements of the image are extracted, others exaggerated and layered one upon the other. The images are printed on archival paper using a large format printer producing what you see here as colorful depictions of urban strata.

Making art, by its nature, fosters self-doubt and self-criticism that at times can be paralyzing.  What motivates me are those times, when fully immersed in what I am doing, I experience the emotional resonance that comes from creating.

Commissioned work accepted.
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Donald Billinkoff Bio (click circle on right to open/close)

Donald Billinkoff, originally from Winnipeg, Canada, studied at York University in Toronto where he Donald Billinkoffreceived both a BA and a Masters in Environmental Studies. He went on to receive a Masters in Architecture at UCLA and in 1978 moved to New York to work at Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. While there, Donald was involved in design of many buildings for the performing and visual arts. In 1992 he established his own firm, Donald Billinkoff Architects. Since then he has designed and built many private homes, lofts and apartments. His architecture and art studios were, until 2010, on the second floor of the Master Apartments.

To view his work visit his art website,; and architecture website, You can follow him on Instagram at dbillinkoff.

Additional Images

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