No Crisis Here, Look Elsewhere

Contemporary Figurative Artists Are Staking a Claim

I roll my eyes every time I hear about representational and figurative art and realism being “imperiled.” Why? Because there are so many important representational artists painting right now.

It’s almost offensive how people think legitimacy comes with the passage of time. History can be a great equalizer, but art that is meaningful will always have–and never lose–its power.

J.F.H. with Four Doors
 by Alex Kanevsky, oil on wood, 36 x 58, 2011.
J.F.H. with Four Doors
 by Alex Kanevsky, oil on wood, 36 x 58, 2011.

Interesting Approaches & Singular Points of View

Established figurative artists who perpetuate unique representational practices abound. Alex Kanevsky, Lisa Yuskavage, Stuart Shils, Christopher St. Leger and Julie Heffernan all work in highly individualized ways.

They have signature styles. Their work would never be mistaken for anyone else’s. What unites them is that they all have a technically interesting approach and consistently come up with compelling narratives.

Bedroom II by Ben Fenske, oil painting, 35 x 43.
Bedroom II by Ben Fenske, oil painting, 35 x 43.

Artists Well On Their Way

There are plenty of young artists working right now who are getting significant lifts in their careers as they become known to more people. Jennifer Presant’s figurative realism is complicated by her use of unusual perspective and object-figure repetition.

Ben Fenske doesn’t settle for the conventional in his landscape paintings. I’m absolutely in love with his interiors and self-portraits. His brushwork and color sensibility are also worth noting.

Close to Home

And I have to give a shout out to several amazing artists who have shown their work on Artist Daily. Fergus A. Ryan produces a wide range of work–landscape paintings, portraiture, still life. Every single piece shows a unique perspective and subtle color palette.

Lee Stockdale’s works always deliver a psychological impact. Her brushwork is visually interesting from a technical perspective. Mike Barr’s cityscapes and seascapes both have an atmospheric quality that draws the eye. He’s found the perfect balance when it comes to the level of detail to include in his works.

Realism Is Yours

I am confident about art-making in the present day because I thrill to the artwork that is being made around me and the artists who make it. I hope we inspire one another to make greater and greater work.

And, with that hope comes an offer for a resource that will simultaneously inspire you and help you along the path to making realism your own and discovering all that can be done with it: New Realism–Contemporary Takes on the Figure. It’s a click away. Enjoy!





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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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