Contemporary Models of Realism (MOCAK Collection)

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The term ‘realism’ appeared in the second half of the 19th century. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of realistic representation applies throughout art history. In the popular perception, ‘good art’ is a faithful representation of reality. This is not, however, what artists consider the most important. They engage in a dialogue with realistic images using their tangibility as raw material to build their concepts.

We all perceive the world in a similar manner – it addresses all of us in the same language. Our communication with others and our very survival depends on how we respond to those messages. This is why the language in which reality addresses us is sensitive to the smallest changes. Each alteration of colour, size or distance acquires a strategic importance and can become a matter of life or death. Artists fine-tune the sensitivity of real images, using it to create their own language; they soften or brutalise them, re-arranging or deforming the figures; they introduce touches of absurdity, exaggerate and manipulate expressions and make colours unrealistic. In this way, they engage realistic language to talk about things that have little in common with a representation of reality. In their works they comment on the perceived rationale of existence, and the time and political era we are living in, with their accompanying mood, dreams and aberrations.

Contemporary art has crossed another linguistic frontier of realistic representation. The 20th century proved very instructive, progressing through cubism, abstract and geometric art, and introducing collage, video and computer techniques. Contemporary artists are adept at probing realistic images to stunning effect, offering reflection on every possible theme.

 

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