miercuri, 3 octombrie 2012

Dragos Raicu - An Introductory Essey

                                   "Cuba" - oil on canvas, 100 x 70 cm, 2012

Recently we encountered a great Romanian artist_ Dragos Raicu. We felt in love with his art and his story.  In order to better understand his art that fits into hyperrealism we want the public to have a scholastic view over what photorealism and hyperrealism means:

Origins of Photorealism –“ As a full-fledged art movement, Photorealism evolved from Pop Art and as a counter to Abstract Expressionism as well as Minimalist art movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States.

Photorealists use a photograph or several photographs to gather the information to create their paintings and it can be argued that the use of a camera and photographs is an acceptance of Modernism. However, the admittance to the use of photographs in Photorealism was met with intense criticism when the movement began to gain momentum in the late 1960s, despite the fact that visual devices had been used since the fifteenth century to aid artists with their work.

Thus, the culmination of the invention of the photograph was a break in art's history towards the challenge facing the artist - since the earliest known cave drawings - trying to replicate the scenes they viewed.

Pop Art and Photorealism were both reactionary movements stemming from the ever increasing and overwhelming abundance of photographic media, which by the mid 20th century had grown into such a massive phenomenon that it was threatening to lessen the value of imagery in art.]However, whereas the Pop artists were primarily pointing out the absurdity of much of the imagery (especially in commercial usage), the Photorealists were trying to reclaim and exalt the value of an image.

Definition - The word Photorealism was coined by Louis K. Meisel in 1969 and appeared in print for the first time in 1970 in a Whitney Museum catalogue for the show "Twenty-two Realists." It is also sometimes labeled as Super-Realism, New Realism.

Styles - According to many, photorealist painting cannot exist without the photograph. In Photorealism, change and movement must be frozen in time which must then be accurately represented by the artist. Photorealists gather their imagery and information with the camera and photograph. Once the photograph is developed (usually onto a photographic slide) the artist will systematically transfer the image from the photographic slide onto canvases. Usually this is done either by projecting the slide onto the canvas or by using traditional grid techniques. The resulting images are often direct copies of the original photograph but are usually larger than the original photograph or slide. This results in the photorealist style being tight and precise, often with an emphasis on imagery that requires a high level of technical prowess and virtuosity to simulate, such as reflections in specular surfaces and the geometric rigor of man-made environs.

Artists - The first generation of American photorealists includes such painters as Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, Charles Bell, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, Robert Bechtle, and Tom Blackwell. Often working independently of each other and with widely different starting points, these original photorealists routinely tackled mundane or familiar subjects in traditional art genres--landscapes (mostly urban rather than naturalistic), portraits, and still lifes.

Though the movement is primarily associated with painting, Duane Hanson and John DeAndrea are sculptors associated with photorealism for their painted, lifelike sculptures of average people that were complete with simulated hair and real clothes. They are called Verists.

Artists Charles Bell, John Kacere, and Howard Kanovitz have died; Audrey Flack, Chuck Close, and Don Eddy have moved in different directions other than photorealism; and Robert Cottingham no longer considers himself a photorealist.

Since 2000 - Though the height of Photorealism was in the 1970s the movement continues and includes several of the original photorealists as well as many of their contemporaries. According to Meisel's Photorealism at the Millennium, only eight of the original photorealists were still creating photorealist work in 2002; nine including Howard Kanovitz.

Newer Photorealists are building upon the foundations set by the original photorealists. Examples would be the influence of Richard Estes in works by Anthony Brunelli or the influence of Ralph Goings and Charles Bell in works by Glennray Tutor. However, this has led many to move on from the strict definition of photorealism as the emulation of the photograph, and the artist Clive Head now actively disassociates himself from the term, even though he has been closely associated with photorealism in the past.

Photorealism is no longer simply an American art movement. Starting with Franz Gertsch in the 1980s Clive Head, Raphaella Spence, Bertrand Meniel, and Roberto Bernardi are several European artists associated with photorealism that have emerged since the mid-1990s.

The evolution of technology has brought forth photorealistic paintings that exceed what was thought possible with paintings; these newer paintings by the photorealists are sometimes referred to as "Hyperrealism." With new technology in cameras and digital equipment, artists are able to be far more precision-oriented.

History of Hyperrealism - Belgian art dealer Isy Brachot coined the French word Hyperréalisme, meaning Photorealism, as the title of a major exhibition and catalogue at his gallery in Brussels in 1973. The exhibition was dominated by such American Photorealists as Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, Don Eddy, Robert Bechtle and Richard McLean; but it included such influential European artists as Gnoli, Richter, Klapheck and Delcol. Since then, Hyperealisme has been used by European artists and dealers to apply to painters influenced by the Photorealists.

However, Hyperrealism is contrasted with the literal approach found in traditional photorealist paintings of the late 20th century. Hyperrealist painters and sculptors use photographic images as a reference source from which to create a more definitive and detailed rendering, one that often, unlike Photorealism, is narrative and emotive in its depictions. Strict Photorealist painters tended to imitate photographic images, omitting or abstracting certain finite detail to maintain a consistent over-all pictorial design. They often omitted human emotion, political value, and narrative elements. Since it evolved from Pop Art, the photorealistic style of painting was uniquely tight, precise, and sharply mechanical with an emphasis on mundane, everyday imagery.

Hyperrealism, although photographic in essence, often entails a softer, much more complex focus on the subject depicted, presenting it as a living, tangible object. These objects and scenes in Hyperrealism paintings and sculptures are meticulously detailed to create the illusion of a reality not seen in the original photo. That is not to say they're surreal, as the illusion is a convincing depiction of (simulated) reality. Textures, surfaces, lighting effects, and shadows appear clearer and more distinct than the reference photo or even the actual subject itself.

Hyperrealism has its roots in the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard, ”the simulation of something which never really existed.” As such, Hyperrealists create a false reality, a convincing illusion based on a simulation of realty

Style and methods - The Hyperrealist style focuses much more of its emphasis on details and the subjects. Hyperreal paintings and sculptures are not strict interpretations of photographs, nor are they literal illustrations of a particular scene or subject. Instead, they utilize additional, often subtle, pictorial elements to create the illusion of a reality which in fact either does not exist or cannot be seen by the human eye. Furthermore, they may incorporate emotional, social, cultural and political thematic elements as an extension of the painted visual illusion; a distinct departure from the older and considerably more literal school of Photorealism.

Hyperrealist painters and sculptors make allowances for some mechanical means of transferring images to the canvas or mold, including preliminary drawings or grisaille underpaintings and molds. Photographic slide projections or multi media projectors are used to project images onto canvases and rudimentary techniques such as gridding may also be used to ensure accuracy. Anomalies found in digital images, such as fractalization, are also exploited to emphasize their digital origins by some Hyperrealist painters, such as Chuck Close, Denis Peterson, Bert Monroy and Robert Bechtle.

 Themes - Subject matter ranges from portraits, figurative art, still life, landscapes, cityscapes and narrative scenes. The more recent hyperrealist style is much more literal than Photorealism as to exact pictorial detail with an emphasis on social, cultural or political themes. This also is in stark contrast to the newer concurrent Photorealism with its continued avoidance of photographic anomalies. Hyperrealist painters at once simulate and improve upon precise photographic images to produce optically convincing visual illusions of reality, often in a social or cultural context. Some hyperrealists have exposed totalitarian regimes and third world military governments through their narrative depictions of the legacy of hatred and intolerance. Denis Peterson, Gottfried Helnwein and Latif Maulan depicted political and cultural deviations of societal decadence in their work. Peterson's work focused on diasporas, genocides and refugees. Helnwein developed unconventionally narrative work that centered around past, present and future deviations of the Holocaust. Maulan’s work is primarily a critique of society’s apparent disregard for the helpless, the needy and the disenfranchised. Provocative subjects include enigmatic imagery of genocides, their tragic aftermath and the ideological consequences.Thematically, these controversial hyperreal artists aggressively confronted the corrupted human condition through narrative paintings as a phenomenological medium. These lifelike paintings are an historical commentary on the grotesque mistreatment of human beings.

Hyperreal paintings and sculptures further create a tangible solidity and physical presence through subtle lighting and shading effects. Shapes, forms and areas closest to the forefront of the image visually appear beyond the frontal plane of the canvas; and in the case of sculptures, details have more clarity than in nature. Hyperrealistic images are typically 10 to 20 times the size of the original photographic reference source, yet retain an extremely high resolution in color, precision and detail. Many of the paintings are achieved with an airbrush, using acrylics, oils or a combination of both.” (Adapted from Wikipedia)

                     "The Sound of The Paper Wall" - oil/canvas, 70 x 50 cm, 2012

Now, back to Dragos Raicu: a Romanian born self-taught artist that has a unique approach. He is at first using only oil paints and brushes. No airbrush spray paints or acrylics are part of his work. His images are imaginary generated so no photographs or multimedia devices are used to stimulate his work. This already differentiates him from all others.  Dragos Raicu is an engineer whose intention was to follow fine art in early eighties but his family put him on a technical pattern instead. Since then,  Dragos Raicu is constantly painting without showing his work on galleries or presenting them to art dealers.

Most of his 30 years of work has been donated to friends, relatives or co-workers. His professional corporate career is also as his paintings- perfect.

His art process starts with a basic pen drawing on gesso canvas and it goes successively to underlying of paints up to the final megarealistic details.

He is a connoisseur of human anatomy, horse anatomy as well as still life composition. Primarily his subjects are superrealists in the true value of the definition. The colors are fresh and the vibrante between light and shadow is perfectly balanced. Honestly, his paintings are not a subject striking, and it should stay that way- they strike because of his impeccable craft and because it is so obvious no photographs are used.

Soon we will come back to his art. Note: the painting process for a 100x80 cm is close to 6 month, 3 hours a day.
Details from the paintings above:


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