A Manifesto For Contemporary Realism:

Recording for history, creating diagrams of the day to day. In recording animate objects, there inevitably comes the knowledge that they will eventually become inanimate… I enjoy the idea of representing life to celebrate life.

This is my visual recording.

I am highly aware of working within a European tradition, but I believe tradition is pointless if it exists for its own sake. It amounts to no more than the misplaced reverence of the dead. However, traditional craft is an invaluable tool for the visual storyteller, whether satirist or celebrant.

The history of Western figuration represents a visual lingua franca, invaluable for manipulation in storytelling. Working within and right up to the bounds of history and tradition can serve to point to its omissions and failures. One merit of figuration is its accessibility. Humans naturally relate to representations of themselves and their created environment, and thus they can be a vehicle for conveying empathy and comparison because of self-recognition.

Portraiture and the figure

Drawing and painting are central to my practice, but my love of creating and learning leads me to embrace many different media. What remains consistent is my interest in portraiture and the human figure. It may be akin to the Renaissance ideal of placing man at the centre of the universe; in any case, it serves to communicate shared experience.

My focus on the male figure may invert centuries of art history, but is a purely instinctive response in choice of subject. Some of the themes I naturally explore are relationships, love and day to day life, situations (or the pursuit of such situations) which are common to us all, and which have untold power over our lives.

How I define contemporary realism in relation to my art practice - and how that relates to 'traditional' figuration.

Conceptualism and craft

Personal involvement, labour and precision are very important to me. I try to incorporate my experience in varied fine and applied art media to my work, blurring the lines between them to point to their equality in the hands of the artist, and to my personal vision through the control I exert over them.

I could never be a purely conceptual artist; Victorian concepts of value and virtue having been ingrained in me by my upbringing preclude such a line, in my case.

Personally, I have an irresistible need to create.

For me, the value of art is bound in its craft. Value, being subjective, is at once a risible concept, yet of the highest importance to humankind. The exploration of worth and perceived value is an ongoing part of my wider artistic practice.

My version of realism

I am a realist. This is accurate, not only in referring to my traditionally naturalistic depiction of figures and objects, but in that I depict people, situations and conversations that have existed and that may be recognizable to many.

As the reality of life in the western world now means the pervasion of digital technology, its depiction within my artwork is unavoidable, perhaps necessary.

The co-existence of the highly polished, intangible, artificial world with the frail, fleshy, inescapable humanity is something that I find extremely interesting.

The souvenirs of choice for lovers may no longer be painted portraits or even printed photographs but digital images; but as long as we are human, their conversion into tangible objects, with physical presences, will be irresistible.

 

 

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