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  • Writer's pictureHelen English Artist

Realistic or representational?

Representational art, as its name suggests, is attempting to represent something which we can see in life. So, for instance, a portrait or a landscape painted as realistically as possible is representational but there is more to this art category.

There are a number of purposeful art styles which can be placed under the representational banner, such as Hyper-realism, Realism, impressionism, and various forms of stylisation.

Hyperrealism is aesthetically close to taking a photograph. There is a subtle difference in that the artist’s aim is to produce every detail with such precision and perfection that couldn’t be found in a photograph. The attention to every square millimetre of such a piece of art is astounding when studied closely.

Realism, on the other hand, has a completely different way of approaching subject matter. Originally an art movement in the nineteenth century, the artists would paint things as they were found as opposed to arranging their subject matter. It was subject to some stylisation however can only be recognised as representative. Today’s version of this art style usually more so.

Impressionism, the famous art style of Monet, is a style which seeks to represent the light and colour present in a scene by painting with speed and giving the painting immediacy. Whilst truly Impressionistic painting is not highly realistic, it is certainly representational of the artist’s observations.

Other styles of artwork, which are stylised, such as illustrative sketches, cartoons and fashion design sketches in pencil, pen, or ink and wash, can also fall under the representational umbrella as long as they seek to represent the subject. Where these styles become imaginative or focused more on surface design they move into the abstract sphere.

I hope that you have enjoyed these art category explanations over the past weeks. I welcome any discussion as usual.

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