Curated by Sarah Wilson
August 2nd-September 20th, 2014
Tinney Contemporary is pleased to present The New Real 2: Figure-Focused, a figurative photorealism exhibition curated by Tinney Contemporary Gallery Director, Sarah Wilson. A follow-up to Wilson's 2012 curatorial debut, this exhibition continues in the same vein as its predecessor by showcasing innovators in the contemporary realism genre with a roster of nationally and internationally known artists unparalleled in their technical skill yet lauded for their distinctive and arguably, defining, subject matter. Though varied in their specific choice of subject matter, the five featured artists (Eric Zener, Yigal Ozeri, Brian Tull, Ali Cavanaugh, and Kevin Peterson) are connected by their works' protagonists- the female figure.
The figures in the exhibited works range considerably in age, appearance, and demeanor, as well as in scale. In the front gallery Yigal Ozeri's romanticized, fantastical landscapes depict "beautiful youth" in nature alongside Eric Zener's hauntingly beautiful suspended swimmers and Brian Tull's sleek, graphic-oriented painting of a "femme fatale" receptionist from another time. In contrast, Ali Cavanaugh and Kevin Peterson's more intimately scaled works in the back gallery present the innocence and soft beauty of youth converging with the often dark awakening that comes with age.
These works do not merely replicate the "real world" though they are amazingly realistic in style. The immense power of these pieces results from the questions they beg of the viewer which ask not only of the artists' intentions but also of the intentions of the figures themselves- What is their emotional state? What is their psychological state? What is their fate?
By allowing the figure to dominate their paintings both visually and conceptually, Zener, Ozeri, Tull, Cavanaugh, and Peterson create works that boldly challenge the notion of photorealism as a genre plagued by a lack of complexity. On the contrary, their captivating portraits demand a psychological connection from the viewer, breathing life into their subjects by deftly blurring the line between illusion and reality.
Eric Zener is an American photorealist artist best known for figure paintings of lone subjects, often in or about swimming pools. Zener is a self-taught artist. His paintings, mostly in oil, are in a photorealist or "super-realist" style Zener describes as "Contemporary Renaissance". The subjects in Zener's paintings are voyagers and seekers of truth. Often alone or in a dream, they vulnerably explore their inner self and their quest for meaning. Zener uses our relationship with water, nature and each other as a metaphor for personal transformation, refuge and renewal. The quiet landscape of a body of water or a beckoning field provides both a literal and psychological place of discovery and confession; or simply a metaphoric snapshot for an ideal state of being. The lone figure immersed in water illustrates the constant force and changing tides in our lives. Above the surface we may appear to be together and unaffected, however below the surface, subconsciously, we are in a constant state of transformation and illumination. It is Zener's intention that the journey is hopeful and the ending enlightening.
Zener's work has been exhibited in the United States, and internationally, for over 20 years. His solo exhibition history has largely been with his long-standing dealers in San Francisco and New York. Additionally numerous shows in Asia, Australia, Europe and other galleries in the US have been part of this artist's curriculum. His work has been featured and reviewed extensively in art magazines and other publications. Apart from gallery representation his work has also been included in museum shows and international residency programs. Currently he is represented in NY, CA, NM, MA, TN and Hong Kong.
New York City based Israeli artist Yigal Ozeri is best known for his large-scale cinematic portraits of young women in vast transcending landscapes. His photo-realistic oil paintings convey the spirit of his subjects in a grand array of natural settings: from abundant rain forests to dreary deserts. Thousands of tiny brushstrokes animate his lifelike paintings, giving way to a remarkable realism, distinct beauty, and seductive power. Ozeri seizes fleeting moments and gives them life. As a result, the viewer is compelled to gaze into the allegorical domain between reality and fantasy. Ozeri has shown extensively around the world including solo exhibits in Bologna, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Toronto, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, France, Denmark, and Munich. His work is included on the cover and in the book Photorealism and the Digital Age. He is currently in a traveling show titled 50 Years of Hyperrealistic Painting that was showcased in a number of venues including: Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, and Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao. He is also in the permanent collections of: The Whitney Museum of American Art, The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, The Jewish Museum in New York, The New York Public Library, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation in Los Angeles, and the Albertina in Vienna, among others. He lives and works in New York City.
Brian Tull is a Nashville-based, self taught, photorealist painter. His strategically cropped paintings are sometimes confrontational and often feature the female figure as protagonist, giving the viewer a subtle glimpse into the characters' lives. Usually leaving you wondering what's just beyond the edges, you might find yourself squinting to see what's being reflected in the gleaming chrome in some of his pieces. The compositions range from graphic-oriented realism with images rich in unmixed color and bound by hard edges, to true photorealism using original photographs as source material. Staging the photograph for the painting reference is essential, as he rarely changes anything throughout the painting process Everything must be period correct.
Tull says he is pulled to photorealism because it makes the viewer notice things they wouldn't notice in real time, especially with his work being large-scale and detailed. A painting freezes movement, reflections. Photorealism is a well-suited vehicle for capturing moments that occur with little notice, but are nonetheless revealing in their narrative. Painting in this style forces Tull as the artist to look beyond the subject matter; to just let a face be an object, or a car just a block of color. In the end, the story will be seen and told.
Ali Cavanaugh was born in St. Louis in 1973 and has worked as a professional artist for 19 years. Her compositions are strong and intuitive, thanks not only to being a wife and mother but also to the variations in her experience-such as hearing loss-that made her adapt to and recreate the world around her. Cavanaugh developed a process best described as modern fresco, where she applies watercolor to plaster panels; her figures often are accentuated by stark white negative spaces. Fascinated by the dichotomy of the seen and unseen in the human condition...body and soul...Cavanaugh's art brings to light the complexity within contemplation. Her signature poetic titles are part of this engaging discourse.
She has had 40+ solo and group exhibitions in galleries throughout the U.S. Cavanaugh's art has been featured in publications such as The New York Times Magazine, New American Paintings no.88, American Art Collector (cover artist), American Artist Watercolor, Watercolor Artist magazine, Southwest Art magazine, International Artist magazine, Art Calendar magazine (cover artist), and The Daniel Smith Art Supply Catalogue. Perhaps because of her work's infectious energy combined with deep reflection, her collectors are particularly devoted. Her work has received extensive recognition and is featured in more than 400 private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Singapore, and Australia. She now lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and four children.
Kevin Peterson's work is about the varied journeys we take through life. It's about growing up and living in a world that is broken. His paintings are about trauma, fear and loneliness and the strength that it takes to survive and thrive. They each contain the contrast of the untainted, young and innocent against a backdrop of a worn, ragged, and defiled world. Support versus restraint, bondage versus freedom, and tension versus slack are all themes that he often visits. His work deals with isolation, loneliness and longing teamed with a level of optimistic hope. Issues of race and the division of wealth have arisen in Peterson's recent work. This work deals with the idea of rigid boundaries, the hopeful breakdown of such restrictions, as well as questions about the forces that orchestrate our behavior. Kevin Peterson studied art at Austin College in Sherman, TX where he received his BFA in 2001. Kevin now makes his home in Houston, TX where he works out of Winter Street Studios.