Lysithea (Oil on Canvas 700mm x 900mm)
Exhibiting at Bryce Contemporary Gallery, Christchurch
‘A tribute to 19th Century academic painting’
Following Romanticism’s fall from favour in France in the 1840’s artists looked to everyday life for inspiration, rather than paint for the church or wealthy patrons (which was the norm until the post-revolutionary period). The result was an explosion in art, illustrating the everyday life of everyday people. From businessman to beggar, from castle to shack, stand-out works were the ones capturing the essence of the subject and making it beautiful, no matter how impoverished or unpleasant the subject in the painting. Artists elevated the subject into something beyond the purely visual.
William Bouguereau (1825-1905) was such a master, capturing beauty and grace and finding the zenith of classical realism. One characteristic feature is the harmonious atmosphere created in his paintings. He understood that in order to make realism ultimately successful, realism must include an intangible glow.
Post modernism, neo-expressionism and digital art demonstrate that what was captured in the realist movements absent from these contemporary forms. The rejection of technique and the advent of technology have rendered harmony and beauty in artwork irrelevant.
As an artist who has studied and undergone artistic training in the realist (naturism) movement of the 19th century, I find it unsettling that society is forgetting or ignoring the age that gave us an ideal of
creation and lasting credibility.
The Revenge series of works are a direct tribute to these past times, where beauty and grace in the figure is married to the beauty and grace of its surroundings, At the same time it turns away from the contemporary movements which place an often commercial value on the work, or one dictated by postmodern philosophy.
”I’m horrified by what we call realism. Reality is charming when it borrows a gleam of poetry from the
imagination” (Sifried Nettement quoting William Bouguereau 1906)
Oil on Canvas 700mm x 900mm