Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's been a long time....

It's been a long time since I've posted something in this blog.

It's been a long time since I've been able to paint full-time again.

It's been a long recovery, a long process of sorting things out, of thinking through what I want to do and how I'm going to go about it?

The last year wasn't entirely idle, I did what I could, tried out new things, took hundreds of photos, many half starts and thought and thought and damn it, thought about everything until I was not only fit enough to work again, but also ready to start.

Highlights of the last year include my painting "Going Home", 2010, 122 x 167 cm being shortlisted for the Fleurieu Art Prize . It wasn't the painting I had wanted to enter, however illness got in the way of my plans. Didn't win the $50,000 main prize, didn't expect to either, at least I was one of only 4 South Australians shortlisted.

The other highlight of the past year was curating an exhibition "MORE REAL THAN REAL: Realism from the USA & Canada, which brought the work of 18 USA & Canadian artists to Australia. The exhibition was at Peter Walker Fine Art during the Adelaide Festival of Arts. The exhibition was a long time in the planning, often working on it from my hospital bed. It was postponed twice, however it finally came together, was much admired by many who saw it and even sold well.

I wrote a short essay for the catalogue;

“Realism”, as in the painted 2-D illusion of the recognizable, is the most pervasive art form in the history of Western art. At various times it has come to the fore, at other times it has been obliterated. Over the ages, Realism has repeatedly resurfaced and become relevant to the prevailing culture.

In the last decade there has been a proliferation of “atelier” art schools teaching the skills, methods, and knowledge of the past. Coupled with the revival of the atelier is the use of the Internet, allowing literally thousands of like-minded painters to find each other, to form social collectives, to teach, to learn and to pass on information.

The value of the Internet to the recent revitalization of realism cannot be understated. The high technology of speed and dissemination of information ironically also suits those whose normal pursuit is in the solitary life of the slowly made art: the artist who uses age-old skills with pigment on canvas to create beguiling illusions.

 Joshua Suda,  Amalgamation           oil on panel            30.5 x 40.5 cm       

Artists working in one form of realism or another have flocked to social networking sites. They have joined art forums and Facebook, set up blogs and webcasts, uploaded videos on YouTube, even produced DVDs. Online video art magazines dedicated to realism have recently attracted a large following.

Why? The answer is so obvious that it's staring us in the face: social networking sites, from Facebook to art forums, allow the reproduction and reduction of images, particularly of realist paintings, in a way that still lets them retain much of their potent imagery.

 Jonathan Queen,  The Secret       oil on panel         51 x 40.5 cm       

Martin Creed won the Turner Prize with an installation consisting of an empty room with a light switching from on to off. How do we photographically represent this without it looking utterly lacking and insipid? Likewise, other art forms like installation art and video art lose much in reproduction, and video art dies on YouTube. By contrast, David Kassan's video of Finger Painting on the Apple iPad from the live model has gone viral with about 1.5 million views.

Jennifer Nehrbass, Typhoon Odessa, oil on canvas , 91.5 x 76cm

The retention of the "wow factor" in realist painting on the Internet comes from knowing that what we are looking at ultimately is paint on canvas. How the recent resurgence of realism takes shape and how it fits within the Contemporary Art World will be very interesting to watch in the coming years. One thing is certain: the re-skilling and emergence of literally hundreds of new realist painters per year will certainly have some effect.

Grayden Parrish,  Susanna looking to the right     oil on panel  50.8 x 45.5 cm

This exhibition is born of the Internet. The artists are decentralized, mostly located in the provinces and connected by social networking. Many of the artists in this exhibition are well known within the realism fraternity in Australia. Now, for the first time, their paintings are being seen here.

 Stephen Magsig,   Greene St shadows     oil on panel     30.5 x 25 cm   

The 18 artists included in More Real Than Real; Realism from the USA and Canada are ;

TRAVIS MICHAEL BAILEY  from Union, Missouri
MARINA DIEUL from Montreal, Quebec
JEFF GOLA from Moorestown, New Jersey
JASON JOHN from Jacksonville, Florida
TARA JUNEAU  from Victoria, British Columbia
LACEY LEWIS  from Kansas,
BRIAN MARTIN  from Providence,  Rhode Island
JENNIFER NEHRBASS  from Albuquerque, New Mexico
GRAYDON PARRISH  from Austin, Texas
LEE PRICE  from Beacon , New York
CINDY PROCIOUS  from Chattanooga, Tennessee
JONATHAN QUEEN  from Cincinnati, Ohio
PIERRE RABY from Montreal, Quebec
KATHERINE STONE from Victoria, Canada 
JOSHUA SUDA from Nanticoke, Pennsylvania 
SADIE JERNIGAN VALERI from San Francisco, California

Lacey Lewis, Lucky Deluxe    oil on canvas       76 x 61 cm

That'll do about the past, next post will be about my new paintings, meanwhile it's back to........


Stefan Maguran said...

So happy to see you back, Jim.

Lisa Nagel said...

great paintings!!! i love it! stunning...!
maybe u have some advice for me! thanks!