One glance at my blog’s design and it is clear that my aesthetic is centered around street art. From breathtaking murals to painted bricks, street art has been integral to my personal aesthetic and has helped me embrace colour in its rawest form. When I first found street art, I had been blogging for two months and was wowed by the artistic delights that Great Eastern Street had shown me. I slowly evolved into a street art enthusiast; At first I still photographed in locational areas like parks, malls and gardens, but the more street art I saw, the more I realized I had a chance to carve out a special aesthetic niche and that was to use street art murals as a feature wall. Naturally, my content very rarely features photos taken outside of the ‘street art zone’, because art has now become a pivotal part of my personal identity but it is not just ‘street art’ that is important to me.
Street art is a politicized medium and what our contemporaries may call the ‘modern art rebellion’ but like all great art eras or trends, there were plenty of other alternative art eras that sought to challenge the norm. At school I was never a talented artist, after all my drawings closely resembled a squashed cat sitting on a pig (try that on for size) but nevertheless still had a keen appreciation for art theories like Post-Modernism and Cubism. Gradually though, my enthusiasm for art- asides from street art- had taken a back seat and it wasn’t until I started blogging that I got back into purchasing paintings and researching artistic styles like Hyper-Realism, Cubism and Abstract art. On my quest to pre-cure an alternative artistic journey, I came across Posterlounge, a former decorating company who uses its knowledge about interior design to aquire carefully selected paintings and prints from over 20,000 artists, including Banksy and more.
Featuring archives that span the more obscure artistic genres- biedermeier-period- to old favorites (Classicism) , PosterLounge’s archives are a feast for the senses. My own artistic tastes tend to lean towards abstraction of context i.e. distortion of an image, where there is no linear image narrative, often rooted in art periods like Cubism and surrealism. A famous example of a photo that defined the ‘Cubist movement’ (which began between 1907-1911) would be Pablo Picasso’s portrait of a ‘weeping woman’ (1937), which played with colour and emotion but unlike surrealism the image ‘stories’ are short and told through a singular object or person who has been ‘tortured into a harmonizing shape’.
Note the cubist nude above, which although painted as a hyper-realistic woman has a cubist body structure that is juxtaposed against a Cubist background, thus buying into the notion of a ‘tortured but harmonized application of artistic shape’. Painted by nominated artist Catherine Abel, Catherine explores modern feminine sexuality and how it is seen through the artists eye. Just by flicking through her extensive art portfolio it is clear that while her roots combine the stylised geometry of the Art Deco & Art Nouveau period with the clarity of the Italian Renaissance Masters, artists like Salvador Dali, Picasso and Braque have clearly influenced her work too. For many art novices like myself it might be easy to presume that ‘surrealism’ and cubism share the same artistic style and indeed evidence of both art styles are prolific in the cubist nude. The cubist nude contains ‘distortion of shape’ which fits into the ‘Cubist movement’ but also uses a highly realistic, almost impressionistic mode of making an image which is a trait of the surrealism movement.
The main difference between the two prolific art eras, is that Cubism equals the fractioning or faceting of an image whereas surrealism, a movement that was formed in the 1920’s explores the subconscious, dreams and deformations of reality.An example of a ‘surrealist artist’ would be Salvador Dali who created ‘hand painted dream photographs’ which gave ‘expression to the unconscious by contrasting elements that were ‘unreal’ and only existed in our dreams. While many might pigeonhole ‘surrealism’ as being part of the fantasy genre, surrealism still uses ‘real life scenarios’ but changes the construction of the image sequence whereas fantasy belongs to the ‘magical realism era’ which is largely based on fables. In other words surrealism-while a distortion of reality- is still connected to our world whereas fantasy resides in an alternative universe.
Speaking of fantasy, little known but nevertheless talented artist Tanja Doronina’s ‘High Fashion’ portrait is rooted in what Posterlounge like to call ‘fantasy worlds’. While the subject is hyper-real and the objects are surrealist, the fantasy element relates to a modern artist placing her ‘artistic character’ into a ‘historical setting’ in a modern way. In other words the fantasy world might not be based on fables but shows the artists interpretation of historical context. The painting for the most part also shows stages of early or pre-photo realism/ hyper-realism which is meant to resemble a high resolution photograph. While it is very evident that the high fashion canvas is a painting the attention to object detail is hyper-real. The face however is the one part of the painting that buys into fantasy with its use of ‘albaster skin’, cherubic flush and large blue eyes. The mix of genres is a technique employed by many modern artists and is something that will only continue to diversify as time goes on.
Pre- Posterlounge, my artistic interests were connected to Street Art and Cubism, but after a search through their momentous archives, I found that my interest in surrealism had intensified. Surrealism is a genre that is both modern and old fashioned and even interlinked with my own beloved street art. While true surrealists claim that there was never a ‘ surrealist movement’ because of its attachment to Capitalism and ‘mainstream societal values’, they do admit that they are attracted to the ‘streets’ because of its value as a site for poetry and ‘marvel’. After all if surrealism is not a ‘movement’ but a ‘reactionary phase’ then it must contend with modern issues like ecological catastrophe, Globalization and the ‘war on terror’ just like street art does too. After all the basic premise of street art is that it is a reaction towards both mainstream values and the modern environment, while surrealism has evolved from an art style that was rooted in the ‘unconscious’ to a reactionary phase that ‘encompasses elements of a dreamlike sequence and places it in a modern setting, outside of our unconscious’.
What Is Your Favourite Artistic Movement or Era?