With a few months until an exhibit, I was compelled to reinvent and push myself to do more with less time. I purchased twelve large pre-stretched canvases and began a frenzied attempt to paint in the style of conceptual realism, departing from my usual loose brushstrokes and drawings. My new acrylic renderings were, in a sense, a return to the simple appreciation of the old masters and the post-modern painters that still examine realism.
I still vividly remember the criticisms of Andrew Wyeth, namely that he was an illustrator and not a true artist because his work was realistic in a time of modernity. Within the context of art periods, the ‘wrong’ style can have grave consequences. However, the art world’s acceptance of artists like Gerhard Richter who have painted realistically gives me hope that my work might find more acceptance. Even Wyeth’s name is appearing in art news with more frequency.
A touch of magical realism, for example, stylized clouds leaping from clothes to the negative space surrounding the subject, further brings the piece closer to conceptual realism, a term that has been used to describe art that attempts to express the unexplainable through realism. Since normal human thought and analysis can’t grasp non-conceptual thinking, I suppose art is naturally the ultimate vehicle to communicate the infinite.
The painting featured in this post, American Geisha No. 1, is an unapologetic obsession with feminine beauty—simple, straightforward and universal—the subject is a symbol for love and splendor. Note the tresses, shaped like a butterfly, the representation of transformation. After all, change is what we should all wish for, the dark chocolate way of perceiving the world—find what is opposite and fall in love. In a time of heightened racial tensions in America, falling in love with diversity, perhaps deeply, may be our only hope.