The Real Thing
This week one of my professors introduced me to the work of Antonio Lopez Garcia. Garcia leads a group of Spanish Realists who typically work from life and depict things that are often considered commonplace. While at first glance Garcia's work looks photo-realistic, upon closer inspection the viewer can often find that while there are areas of precise detail, there are also areas of looser, more painterly brushstrokes that add character and interest to his work. When you look at his "Open Refrigerator," you can't help but notice his attention to detail, but when you look closer you notice that the side of the refrigerator door is simply implied or suggested.
Garcia represents real spaces that are truly interpretation of the space and time. Because he paints form life, his work is created over a period of time, so the light is always changing. This requires him to make decisions about how he will represent the light in his work. Often, like in "Sink and Mirror," he will also slightly distort the image to create a more dramatic affect.
I find Garcia's approach intriguing. I am drawn to his subjects and the common ugliness that makes so many of them absolutely beautiful. The way Garcia represents his subject is also something that I appreciate. I would never consider myself a photo realist, I don't think I have the patience for that, but I do love to create areas of intricate detail that are complimented by areas that are more painterly. This was a quality I always admired in the work of John Singer Sargeant, and, while Garcia is more of a realist, I feel that those qualities still exist in his work.
While researching Antonio Lopez Garcia I came across an article called "Artists on Art - Antonio Lopez ," by artist David Jon Kassan written in November of 2012. While in Madrid Kassan actually visited the studio of Garcia and even had the opportunity to paint his portrait while he was there. After reading the article I was intrigued and had to look up Kassan's work. He uses a very similar technique to create his portraits, using amazing realism partnered with some looser, painterly areas. But the realism he achieves in the flesh tones is uncanny. His life-size portraits capture the wrinkles and veins of his subjects, but he also capture the personality and emotion of his subjects in a way that completely draws the viewer in.
Kassan says, "My work is a way of meditation; of slowing down time through the careful observation of overlooked slices of my environment.”
Many of Kassan's backgrounds are rough, deteriorating walls that echo the changing, and aging of his subjects. Kassan says, "Time is an unbroken continuum of experience, change, growth and decay, and both subject and background are visceral embodiment of this process." Kassan’s inclusion of urban exteriors in his paintings invites the viewer to appreciate that which is typically overlooked and deemed mundane.
Interesting enough, both Garcia and Kassan tend to take years to complete their work. Both consider their work a process of discovery as opposed to something to be rushed through. I look forward to having the time to enjoy the journey and the process of creating my work a little more after Graduate School is complete.
While I am not interested in painting portraits at this juncture, I couldn't help writing about Kassan - his work is captivating, and ironically I learned in my research that he grew up very close to where I did in New Jersey!
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Working on my MFA in Studio Art at Georgia Southern has taught me the importance of understanding not only what I am doing as an artist, but also what other artists are doing, and how that can impact my artwork.