Is Realism Still Alive Today?

March 16, 2016

This might sound unbelievable, but we arrived at the moment, where realism (representational art) became the one which is going against the mainstream. Thousands and thousands of students - young artsts - are released every year into the world of art in the United States. And most of them see themselves as carriers of the Creativity, Artsy-ness, individuality, self-expression and therefore strive to go away from any set points, any tradition. Just few are actually dedicated to following the legacy of realism, persuading the likeliness of the object, depicting the world in a most realistic way possible, being challenged by this task and constantly enhancing their own technical mastery.


As a result the today's representational realism artist became the one who is being a minority, who is going against the flow, who has to be independent thinking. Unbelievable, because it was the opposite for centuries!


It is a long and meaningless discussion what style or technique is better. It can never end, because any art is an individual self-expression of the artist, of a personality. It is especially true in the United States, which are historically based on the tolerance to differences, on respect to 'unlike' and on the co-existance of vatiations, exchange of multiple ideas, on the search for the New and Progressive.


Representational realism went into infavor in the 20th century. Invention of a photo camera replaced the artist's depicting function. Chemistry replaced the artist's hand. As a protest against it, artists started opposing camera, beating it in the battle of creativity. Cubism, avangardism, dadaism etc. were born.


But what happens today looks like a historical change in the global picture making. As the british artist David Hockney noticed, chemical process in the picture making is practicly dead. It is no more dictating the rules. We live in the digital world now. Humans can now take the pictures with digital cameras and manipulate them in editors like Photoshop. Therefore, human is using creativity, using the hand to change the picture. In a global scale it is a huge principal change.


Along with this change we can see amazing artwork being created by young realists who start looking back into what was before the Chemistry took place, who are interested in the process of traditional painting, rediscovering the classical painting techniques and adapting them to the new reality of our day. Listening to well known realism artists shows that many of them feel like the art of the Old Masters is on the threshold of new life. Yes, for a century we played with abstracts, maybe too much. But now we are finally looking back into the precious rich heritage we've got.


There are societies of realists, there are schools of realism in America (like in New York, Boston or Baltimore), incredible and talented, there are artists of all ages (among my favorite Michael DeVore, Daniel Gray, Carlo Russo, Larry Preston, Marcel Franquelin, Todd Casey), who dedicate their lifes to learning the techniques of Caravaggio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Velasques and dozens of other legends of the art world.


And not less important, there are people who are looking for realism in painting. You can hear it at any show, any gallery - people are looking for paintings where they understand what is actually depicted, for paintings, which will challenge the high-tech world with their mastery, color and authenticity.


It is just the question of how well and how soon realists will be able to adapt the traditional, classic mastery to the modern world to change the global trends, to make the 21st century a new Renaissance, to make realism paintings being researched, sought after and valued higher than any other style.


Believe in the power of art,

Vitaly Borisenko