Hyperrealism and photorealism

Pastel realistic painting by Enriquillo Amiama

Hiperrealistic pastel painting by Enriquillo Amiama

When the photographic camera did not exist, the most remarkable appearance of reality was achieved only by a few artists.

Reproducing or representing what we see implies mastery of drawing (line, shape, volume, or modeling) and pictorial techniques (color).

Masters like Velázquez, Durero, and Ingres are examples of what could be achieved without the help of a photograph.

With the advent of the camera and its development, immobilizing a scene helped artists not to depend on the living model painted from nature or based on detailed sketches.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame. Painting by Enriquillo Amiama

“Fifteen Minutes of Fame” Photorealistic painting by Enriquillo Amiama

There are two main aspects of photographic realism: photorealism, neorealism, and hyperrealism.
The first seeks to look like a “photo” by imitating the effects of blurring and other characteristics common to the photographic genre.

Hyperrealism goes beyond a photo and tends to combine several images to achieve an absolute degree of reality.
Everything is focused, and the details are more significant than we commonly visualize.

The 70s were the boom of these movements, perhaps as a reaction of many artists against the abstract expressionism that had dominated since the 50s.

One of the problems posed by these styles is that most people without much knowledge of art believe that looking like a photo is a virtue, and they subordinate the evaluation of work to that.

Of course, the trade it requires and the technical capacity to achieve it is high, but that does not necessarily make it art, let alone good art.

Woman XIX. Contemporary flower painting by Enriquillo Amiama.

“Woman XIX” Contemporary flower painting by Enriquillo Amiama

A painting, hyperrealist or not, requires other no less essential elements to be exceptional.

Among those elements are the general composition, the theme, the message, and something that I expressly leave last: Creativity.

Art is art because it is creative.
Without this virtue, work is nothing more than a display of craftsmanship, even if it is beautiful or “just like a photo.”

Artists like Richard Estes, Chuck Close, and others have made great works of art within these styles whose names are sometimes confusing, such as photorealism and hyperrealism.

But that greatness is in many factors that go beyond the paintings’ definition and degree of detail.

Originality in the chosen themes, in the compositions, and mastery of everything that a great painting requires are present in the works of these artists.

They have impeccable techniques and virtuoso skills in painting tools.

The simple resemblance to reality is not everything, although it has value. Should we learn to look a little further!