Reality and Unreality
We Monks came upon The Duan Hanson show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery by chance.
And by coincidence I have been working on what might be called a Photorealistic painting for some months now, off and on.
I have often asked myself what is the point of producing a work of art, a painting so like a photograph and in fact where a photograph is used in order to produce that painting?
I am aware of the contradiction and this is not a new conundrum: in fact it dates back to the first days of photography. The painting of Degas and Manet are noted academically for their references to the then new medium of photography in terms of composition and contemporary subject.
But the notion of "Photorealism" has a later root in the American movement of the early seventies that referred directly to photography, not as the means, but as the as the subject of painting by hand on canvas. These artists were reclaiming the means of visual expression from the instant mechanical click of a camera shutter.
Images created by hand seemed to demand more attention. Certainly hours of toil would demand a challenge for the artist to have a clear idea of the outcome before he or she might embark on such a time consuming process.
The Serpentine Sackler Gallery has revisited Duan Hanson at a time when the mechanical reproduction of visual images and even 3D images are created by convenient tools you might buy in Costco or Carphone Warehouse.
The Serpentine Gallery in Hyde park put on a show in 1973. I do remember being taken aback by the audacity of the images of Chuck Close 40 years ago. Also, John Becktele, Robert Cottingham, Don Eddy, Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Nancy Graves, Howard Kanovitz, Richard Maclean, Malcolm Morley and John Salt.
And then also by what I shall call the 3D Photorealism of John de Andrea and Duan Hanson.
I bought the catalogue for 60p, in 1973 a lot of money then.
The new Duane Hanson show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery continues until 13 September 2015..