Sunday, July 31, 2016

Artist's Super-Realistic Works Pit Primal Forces Against Each Other

Art challenges us even as it reflects our lives — that, in fact, is how art works. It holds up a mirror to show us all the forces battling within us, the duality of our natures, and the drama we might otherwise miss when we're caught up living life. The great painters can achieve such lofty feats with images that comfort us and draw us in before revealing their secrets. Some might see that as trickery, and it is a trick of sorts; it's an illusion, but an illusion with a purpose, not an illusion for its own sake. And it's what's waiting within the painting — what you find after meeting its challenge — that makes artwork great.

Award-winning artist Joel Rea hails from Australia. He works primarily in oil on canvas, creating super-realistic images and placing them in surreal situations. 

Works such as The Promised Land show Joel's tendency to pit forces against each other - man vs. animal, man vs. nature, nature vs. animal. 

It's a theme he has played with throughout his career — and it's quite an accomplished career even though he's only 32 years old. 

"My paintings reveal to me what I'm personally obsessed with and a recurring theme is this duality within nature," he says. "As nature myself, I'm rife with the same kind of duality, whether it be the inner forces that drive my mental behavior or just the physical experience of witnessing the natural world. It's that combination of the savage and the beautiful that really motivates me to make this work."

In See Me, a man barely keeps his head above water. Nature is threatening to kill him even as the sun pokes through the clouds. We don't need to see sharks swimming in the water; he's already surrounded by peril.

Even when the subjects of his paintings seem to be on top, as with the wave-rider in The Precision of Luck, danger remains ever-present. That could represent Joel's own way of sorting through his life.

"I've always felt like my paintings have been a place of sanctuary for me," he says, "where I can deal with the experiences I've had in my life and the way that I've felt through those passages of time." 

"I can invest that into a creative process and in turn feel some kind of cathartic release and a way of moving forward with my life."

For his meticulous creations, Joel uses brushes as thin as just a few hairs to achieve the level of detail he desires. And it takes hours of planning to build the drama-laden images he's known for.

Joel's work has been featured in exhibitions at galleries across Australia, and his most recent, Beasts of Arcadia, which includes Clash, took over the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York in the fall of 2015.

Main image via Facebook / Joel Rea

Collage images via Facebook / Joel Rea


Author: verified_user