2012 Contemporary Realism Biennial

August 11 - October 29, 2012

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art's Contemporary Realism Biennial is a national invitational and juried exhibition which highlights the strength and innovation of America's current trends in realism. America has enjoyed a long, rich history of Realist art from Colonial times to the present. We are proud to expand the discourse on this enduring tradition in presenting the 2012 installment of this dynamic contemporary exhibition.

Although a seemingly narrow focus, the art in this exhibition presents a vast range of ideas, approaches, styles, and subject matter. Some artists are building and expanding upon the legacies of Photorealism, Magic Realism, trompe l'oeil, and urban realism. Others strive to capture light and texture, or delve into the psychology of the situation or sitter. Several create fantastic and macabre narrations or even border on abstraction.

Frank Bernarducci of the Bernarducci.Meisel.Gallery in New York City was given the arduous task of choosing three best of show artworks in this exhibition that features top American realists. His choices are:

1. David EichenbergAimee  2. Martin ArnoldChristina in Stripes  3. David JamiesonNested

Honorable mention includes Lanna Pendleton-Hall, After the Rain; Ivan Chermel, The TrainerandPhilip Jackson, Transitory Reflections: Tangerine and Apples

When asked to describe the selection process, Bernarducci said, "As a dealer, I have definite criteria by which I view a painting. Our gallery receives close to 10,000 artist submissions a year--one every 20 minutes. So we know right away when we have something special. First there must be an emotional response to the work, a certain truth and beauty. The artist must have a unique point of view. It must be painted in a thoroughly modern way, a way that we have never seen before. These criteria are very difficult to achieve. Many of the selections for this Biennial are in that 1% - the cream of the crop: images that make you look a second and a third time, paintings and sculpture by the truly gifted. So to select three is almost unfair. It becomes a totally subjective process. There is no good or bad or best. My final selections are works that make my own pupils dilate. I would suggest seeing this extraordinary show for yourself. Then make your own three selections. See how easy it is."

First Prize: David Eichenberg

Solitary figures in abstracted settings whose expressions cross over from the artist's imagination into the reality of the viewer. Connecting emotion between sitter and viewer, as if allowing an intimate exploration for both. Small trompe l'oeil paintings whose inanimate objects come together to narrate and record contemporary issues within our society.

Second Prize: Martin Arnold

Genuinely relevant figurative art transcends mere representations of beauty by appealing to that fascination that we all harbor for our fellow humans. Frequently, it is the involuntary, almost imperceptible gestures that speak more honestly than our words, betraying our true thoughts and feelings. It is this honesty and enthusiasm that I draw on as I attempt to elicit an emotional response through my work.

While achieving a physical likeness is important, my primary goal is to infuse each figure within my paintings with a psyche, exploring and exposing each one's uniqueness and simultaneous commonness. It is this apparent contradiction of coincident attributes that seems to compel each of us to probe those around us and then to extrapolate our findings to our own condition and to that of the human race as a whole. What we learn of others ultimately serves to reveal us to ourselves.

Honorable Mention: David Jamieson

Painting realistically is an act of observation and reflection by the artist. Every painting is an expression of the light, space, structure and form that are the grammar and syntax of a language perfectly suited to describing visual experiences. Here is something beautiful, says the artist as objective witness to the physical world.

But realism is more than mere description. Even the most faithful representation is not simply a record of nature, but an impression passed from the eye to the mind to the hand of the artist. Hundreds of artistic decisions make every picture unique, elevating it beyond prosaic description to the realm of meditation – a profound and quiet reflection on the physical world. This hybrid of depiction and contemplation is the singular strength of realist painting and why it has remained compelling throughout history.


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