I am an artist, writer, and podcaster.
I host the art podcast, John Dalton - gently does it . . .
Which consists of long-form interviews with figurative artists from around the world.
Since 2013 I have interviewed over 200 artists from 21 countries.
In 2019 I juried the Annual National Juried Exhibition at the Wausau Museum on Modern Art.
“Paintings of stuff that looks like stuff.”
Probably the most honest description of figurative art I have heard.
“We paint nouns,” another painter told me, “You know, people, places, things.”
Figurative painting was out of fashion for decades with the contemporary art world. It was considered old and had nothing new to say.
Yet it persisted.
While there is a place for abstract art and all the variations that came from it, there is something timeless and immediate about figurative painting.
There is something about it that speaks to us.
We can look at a painting by van Dyck, painted in the 1600s and immediately we will opinions on the person in the portrait.
“He is sneaky.”
“She is innocent, mostly.”
We immediately begin to attach stories.
“She looks like her heart has just been broken.”
“Why is he smiling? What is he up to?”
It is this accessibility of figurative painting that makes it such a difficult genre to work in.
We immediately know if something looks off. If the artist hasn’t quite captured the likeness or if the proportions are wrong.
Small children, for God’s sake, can tell if a figurative painting looks, “right.”
And they will.
And it is crushing.
Figurative painting is an unforgiving genre. The basics are hard to learn and take years to master. So to come across a good figurative painting is a rare find.
This collection highlights some of the best figurative paintings I have seen on Altamira.