The object that is offered to the eye, reproducing the human being as it is, is immediately effective.
The artist does not interpret the body, he recreates it, doubles it, simulates its presence, duplicates it without the usual aesthetic tics that have made the heyday of modern statuary.
© John DE ANDREA / Amber reclining, 2015-2016, polyester and natural hair, variable geometry installation.
This search for truth without concession to the supposedly consoling powers of art will always surprise us by its clear materialism, plunging us into the paradox that it is the spectator who invents his emotion, his discomfort or his joy, confronted with sculptures that attempt to eliminate the border between art and reality.
To observe these works is to observe oneself, to experience the mirror, however disturbing it may be, to consider oneself as a human being, thus constituted, thus dressed and thus undressed, thus visible on the surface of things, appearance among appearances, alone among one's own, internally unique and externally common, horribly banal in its appearance, that is to say wonderfully banal in its appearance.
Hyperrealist sculpture invites us to question the archetypes we embody, and the meaning of the situations we experience every day, here, on this day, at every moment, without the deceptive veil of our designs, our dreams, our lies. Obviously opposed to the quest for an outdated ideal of beauty, these artists, using techniques that make us think of taxidermy, displaying life itself, nonetheless speak of our imminent proximity to death.
© John DE ANDREA / American Icon (Kent State), 2015, oil on polyvinyl, mixed media, variable geometry installation
Louis K. Meisel, in his seminal work « Photorealism in the digital age » written with Elizabeth K. Harris (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York, 2013), groups hyper-realist sculptors under the term « verists », their search for veracity being, as the word goes, proven.
We can certainly argue that, whatever the technique employed, the question seemed to boil down to whether or not the illusion is total, thus validating a remarkable talent. But we soon realise that, whatever the artist's virtuosity, he or she does not want to deceive us but rather to place us face to face with the truth, our truth. Contemplating these works is an act that goes far beyond probing the know-how involved or questioning the perfection of an original technicality.
It is, very authentically and very sincerely, a matter of telling the truth in sculpture.
© Duane HANSON, Man with camera, 1991, Autobody filler, polychromed in oil, mixed media with accessories. Lifesize. Private collection.
The two sculptors who are presented from the outset as historically belonging to the Photorealist movement are obviously Americans: Duane Hanson (1925-1996) and John de Andrea (1941), the former producing figures and scenes from the American street where economic prosperity does not rhyme with social justice, the latter on the contrary producing only nudes with meticulously rendered anatomy.
Both, in their own way, denounce social predetermination. Duane Hanson: « In the quiet moments when you look at my work, you may recognise the universality of all human beings. We are always frustrated, tired, bored, weary and feel isolated. But life should be full of hope. I just observe what I see, and wonder if, with a few changes in ourselves, this world could be a better place. 1993 (see Duane Hanson Catalogue, Serpentine Galleries, Koenig Books, 2015)
© Zharko BASHESKI / Grace
Zharko Basheski (1957), a Macedonian artist, creates spectacular situations in which his figures play with the paradoxes of perception.
© Sam JINKS /Woman and Child, 2010, Mixed Media, 145 x 40 x 40 cm.
Sam Jinks (1973), an Australian sculptor, projects us into the throes of existence, from birth to old age, with totally introverted postures.
© Ron MUECK / Untitled (Big Man), 2000, Pigmented polyester resin on fiberglass, 80 1/4 × 47 1/2 × 80 1/2 in.
Ron Mueck (1958), an Australian of German origin living in London, enlarges or shrinks the bodies of his figures according to the sensation they embody, the most vulnerable intimacy being exposed to the gaze, which our humanity shares in a universal way.
© Marc SIJAN (1946), Américain, Cornered Lady, 2011, oil on polyester resin, 74 x 38 x 71 cm.
Marc Sijan (1946), an American born in Serbia, and undoubtedly the most perfectionist of all, produces works that are striking as much for the feeling they express, the extreme sensitivity that emanates from them, as for the translucent quality of the surface
© Evan PENNY / Camille, 2014, silicone, pigment, hair, aluminum, 86 x 84 x 25 cm
Evan Penny (1953), a Canadian sculptor famous for his particularly moving busts, said in 2011: « If there is one thing I would like to elicit in the viewer when they are in front of the work, it is a moment of awareness of their own physical experience, of the experience of their own being in space. »
© Jamie SALMON / Collection Jamie Salmon.
Jamie Salmon (1971), a British artist working in Vancouver, makes sometimes incomplete faces, busts and bodies in the grip of personal dramas.
© Jacques VERDUYN / Kate 4
Belgian artist Jacques Verduyn (1946) encourages us to reconsider with empathy the gestures of daily and domestic life.
© Carole A. FEUERMAN / Monumental Serena, 2017, Lacquer on epoxy with Swarovski crystals, 94 x 205 x 79 cm
The American Carole A. Feuerman (1945), more recently, shows young bathers with their eyes closed, deliciously abandoned to the pleasure of the water and the sun.