Modern art seems to have gotten itself a reputation for being a load of squiggles and lines haphazardly thrown onto a canvas and called ‘art’. The catchphrase for the modern art movement has widely been ‘A two year old could have done that!’, and it’s very much a Marmite movement in that sense, but it’s not all abstract and angular.
I have chosen this month’s ‘Artist of the Month’ because he counters the popular abstract, impressionist modern movement. Serge Marshennikov, a Russian painter whose weapons of choice are most frequently oil and linen seems to be bringing renaissance detail and the style of the classical portraiture movement back to the modern world with his contemporary hyperrealist works.
For those of you who are not familiar with the hyperrealist movement, it is a genre of art that attempts to imitate a high resolution photograph. Isy Brachot, a Belgian art dealer, coined the term Hyperréalisme – or hyperrealism – as the title of a major exhibition and catalogue at his gallery in Brussels in 1973. The works in the exhibition were by numerous photorealists, and hyperrealism is just an advancement on this previous photorealist movement.
Marshennikov embraces this hyperrealist style to create modern-day equivalents of greek statues and painted goddesses. His incredibly intimate and detailed paintings look as though they have been plucked right out of a romantic, soft focus photography exhibition, and transported back into the classical world. The only thing that indicates that these are modern works, are the subjects and their clothes/accessories. Marshennikov has embraced and updated this classical style to create something truly breathtaking and sensual. He has created the modern goddess.
Some of his paintings even have hint of da Vinchi’s line drawings and sketches to them, and others have strokes of Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring. And some of the most powerful and intimate portraits don’t involve a subject at all, but heaps of light, sheer fabrics – used to conceal the modesty of subjects in other portraits in the series – tousled on mattresses and floors, suggesting the fully bare figures that are roaming about out of the frame of the painting itself.
So, to stop you mid sentence when damning modern day artists to the shade under the negative umbrella term ‘modern’, which conjures images of paint splatters and urinals, I present to you our artist of the month: Serge Marshennikov, today’s da Vinchi, the Raphael of the digital generation.
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