The return of photo-realism?
A return of photo-realism? I must have missed the memo, big time. However, it’s a trend to be aware of, as you plot your path to success in your art career.
My discovery of this trend began when Robert Genn’s recent email mentioned the return of photo-realism. (Genn’s free, twice-weekly emails are brilliant, if you’re pursuing an art career.)
I skimmed that article, nodded in agreement with a lot that he said, and then went looking for evidence to support (or refute) his views. Is there really a photo realism movement in progress?
It didn’t take me long to find that Robert Genn is, indeed, exactly right: Photo realism is surging as an art trend.
Personally, I’m not a photo-realist and never will be. Oh, I had my photo-realism phase. Soon, I was bored out of my mind. There’s a lot of technical skill involved, of course. However, when I pursued a photo-realistic style of painting, I felt more clever than inspired.
That’s a pretty wide gap.
I found myself musing over comments by Terry Gilliam, an amazing artist in his own right. In the L.A. Times, he was talking about the art of film making, and he said,
“…there’s this rush now for photorealism and it bothers me. There’s so much overt fantasy now that I don’t watch a lot of the films because everything is possible now. There’s no tension there. Where’s the tension?” — Terry Gilliam in the L. A. Times
I think he’s hit on something, and it’s about the emotional impact.
For me, the extreme opposite of photo realism is non-representational, abstract works. However, I can argue equally well that the opposite is Impressionism, Tonalism, Luminism, or any of the other -isms that begin with something real and photographic, and transform the subject into something with more emotional impact.
That’s what’s missing in my clever, photo-realistic works: The emotional impact.
Of course, I can argue equally well that the sterile nature and lack of emotions in photo-realism can be statements as well… and important ones. The innate spectatorism of modern life cannot be ignored, and the more chilling photo-realistic works convey that nicely.
Somewhere in-between, there’s the wit of photo montages. (Those are collages with interesting, sometimes quirky elements added. Often, the viewer may not notice the additions for a few minutes. That’s where the humor comes into the work.)
However, returning to the theme of photo-realism, the following article (and the art in it – do click the link) caught my attention:
Paul Cadden – Glasgow, UK Artist – Illustrators – Artistaday.com
Cadden regards his paintings as a departure from classic Photo-realism, chiefly since they contain emotional, cultural and political themes without visual reference. His work has been exhibited in Glasgow including at the …
For me, the key phrase in that article is why Cadden sees his work as a departure from classic Photo-realism. His works — while technically superb — contain emotional statements I rarely see in purely photo-realistic works. That’s why I keep going back to that article, and to Paul Cadden’s website.
I can’t imagine anything that would draw me back to a realistic style, even hyperrealism, which is what Cadden is creating. Photo-realism doesn’t inspire me. (That’s not a value judgment of photo-realism in general, just a personal reaction.)
Nevertheless, this trend towards photo-realism is important to note. If you work in this style, it’s time to issue some press releases, online and locally. Your photo-realistic artwork may be exactly what collectors and galleries are hungry for, right now.
At the moment: Photo-realism sells!