We built this city on rock and roll.

American artist James McNabb designs stunning artworks by combining traditional woodworking with experimental art to create new visions of the urban landscape. These imaginative and unique skyline-inspired sculptures come together in a curated collection of six abstracted cityscape sculptures named URBIS for the M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva.

91 x 51 x 9 cm
CHF 17’500.- inc. VAT

“I’m an intense person. Everything I do, I do with all my energy. I’m also cautiously curious and very sensitive,” expresses James. “I want to capture my passion within the work, charge the objects with my energy and emotions so observers can feel my experiences when viewing the work.”

Behind these intricate cityscapes is a tremendous amount of time and talent. Hours upon hours are logged to process the material with steps that include milling and dimensioning in his Philadelphia-based studio.

91 x 3 cm
 CHF 25'900 inc. VAT

James designs each wooden skyscraper in his mind’s eye and skilfully uses his hands to freely guide the lumber, cutting out every detail of the structure with the bandsaw. “To me, it’s a very expressive machine, responsive to its user in a very sensitive way,” he explains. “I’m sensitive to how the material behaves with the machine, and how my behaviour impacts the resulting forms. If we (maker, material, machine) can dance together, the results are often beautiful.”

130 x 68 x 5 cm
CHF 17’500.- inc. VAT

Once all the architectural structures are finished, James assembles each individual component, piece by piece, to create impressive urban landscapes. The entire sculpture is then sanded to an impeccably smooth texture and finished with varnish to enhance the wood grain.

The exhibition reveals intricate architectural structures imagined by James, from towering skyscrapers and office buildings to high-rise apartment buildings. In the “City Square” sculpture, James visually transforms a skyline into an urban block by inverting each tower in such a manner that the antennas are practically touching in the centre while the outer edges are squared off. The composition compromises 102 unique structures in American black walnut, each laboriously sanded and stained to an exquisite finish to complete the look. This contemporary piece measures 66 x 66 x 6 cm.

City Square
66 x 66 x 6 cm
CHF 19’500.- inc. VAT

“ACK CTY WHL” is a work of art that bends a modern metropolis into a sophisticated sphere due to the precise placement of each elongated wooden tower. The gentle rondure and simplicity of the perimeter contrast with more than one hundred highly ornate superstructures arranged inside. One can visualize the bustling momentum of city life happening within this circular world. The negative space creates a glowing sun that adds to the complexity and depth of this architectural wonder. This eye-catching work, 91 cm in diameter, incorporates a variety of wood types including walnut, cherry, oak, and maple.

In a similar design, “URB CTY WHL” maintains the round construction of “ACK CTY WHL” though the interior is modern with clean structures crafted from American black walnut. The streamlined design of this rolling metropolis eases thoughts and draws on a simpler way of life.

91 x 3 cm
CHF 25’900.- inc. VAT

“Disposition” is a sculpture balancing a bustling city filled with distinctive architecture at varied elevations. The sleek skyscrapers are composed in American black walnut and assembled to create a 46 x 46 x 51 cm metropolis. One has a bird’s-eye view into the streets of this city on the edge, and it’s easy to imagine an uphill climb or sliding down – or perhaps just hanging on.

46 x 46 x 51 cm
CHF 10’900.- inc. VAT

Looking from the outside in, it is easy to get lost in the details of these abstract fantasy cities and contrive imaginative stories of a futuristic life along the streets of each vertical urban environment.

Download the price list of the URBIS exhibition and stop by our gallery in Geneva to see the works first hand. If Geneva isn't in your travel plans, be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts (@mbfmadgallery) for behind-the-scenes updates. Please don't hesitate to contact us at info@madgallery.ch or stay in touch with the latest happenings at the MB&F M.A.D.Gallery online.

Warmest regards. 

Arnaud Légeret