Hyper-realistic drawing and painting is an incredible skill that really gives us pause. Especially in the age of high resolution cameras on just about everyone’s phone, and the proliferation of Photoshop-aided art. We sort of take realistic and surrealistic views for granted, but when we look at super-realistic art done by hand, like the work of Australian artist Joel Rea, we ponder the extraordinary artistic dexterity involved. Rea’s breathtaking work clearly draws much inspiration from nature, particularly the ocean. And for anyone who has tried, depicting water realistically is no small feat. Never mind clouds, sand and the human form. Rea’s masterful paintings are not only visually precise, but also do a fantastic job of conveying emotion, whether it be a sense of fear, hope or liberation. These contemporary surrealist works have some real substance, and we look forward to what the future holds for this phenomenal young artist.
Conceptual food photography has got to be one of our favorite niche disciplines lately, only confirmed by this excellent collaboration between Sydney-based creatives Enrico Becker and Matt Harris. Created as visuals to accompany editorial on genetically modified foods, these photos could easily stand on their own. We love the choice of colors and thoughtful compositions. The pastel tones of the produce, along with the bar codes of course, push the work into surreal territory. And quite effectively, we might add. In his own words, Becker explains, “As shooting style, we were going for a more pastel monochromatic still-life style approach. The end result of the shoot was combined in an awesome two-spread magazine layout with a well written article about genetically modified food by Matt Harris. The idea was to create a combination between the photography and the written text.” Oh, and did we mention these guys are also students? Nice work, by any measure.
With the proliferation of digital photography, pared with editing software like Photoshop, photo retouching is basically the norm these days. There has certainly been some controversy (good example here) surrounding the practice, especially when it comes to the issue of misrepresentation. Hungarian photographer/artist Flora Borsi specializes in digital manipulation, but with surprising effect that can even be described as unnerving. Turning retouching on its head, with her project Stockify, Borsi’s work clearly finds inspiration from legendary surrealist painters that came before her, most notably Picasso and Dali. Borsi brings the fundamentals of surrealist artwork, particularly unexpected juxtapositions, to the digital age with this arresting series. In her own words, “In this project I’ve been analyzing some fashion portraits, how perfect they are. So I made the opposite of retouching, somehow I distouched these pictures of perfect models. This project is connected to surrealist painters point of view: beauty wasn’t enough to give me interest. I love imperfections as much as I love surrealism. These pictures are my little monsters, no one wants to look like them, because they are totally unique.”
Done well, photo manipulation can stop you in your tracks. Advances in software technology, particularly Photoshop, have allowed artists to explore surreal scenarios, once restricted to visions inside one’s head, like never before. The cultural and artistic movement known as surrealism began in the early 1920s, and arguably continues today to some degree, with the rise of said technological advances. One such artist engaging in making art that blurs the lines between dream and reality is Mumbai-based Anil Saxena. Saxena is particularly adept at Photoshop, and has a playful sort of style, but does not utilize his skills haphazardly. He creates thoughtful work, and is extremely detail oriented. In his own words, Saxena says “If the image is a success but my work goes unnoticed, I’m doing my job well.” We couldn’t agree more.
More current surrealist art here and here and here.