Towards a New Realism: An Investigation of the Possibilities for a Socially Engaged Painting Practice
I am proposing to examine the methodologies and signifying structures of ‘classical’, ‘critical’, ‘social’ and ‘socialist’ realist painting to determine whether they can be synthesised or adapted to generate a socially informed and democratically readable contemporary painting practice. Whilst taking account of the stylistic breadth of the tradition, I hope to arrive at a model of realist painting capable of sustaining reflection upon current social themes and conditions. In turn, I would expect this to contribute to the evolution of my own practice as a realist painter.
In this instance, realist painting will be taken as distinct both from ‘humanist figuration’ beginning with the Renaissance and socially or politically motivated work in other areas of fine art practice such as conceptual art, installation, performance or graphic art. In that sense a minimum requirement for realist painting would be the representation of groups or individuals primarily in terms of their social, historical, economic and political contexts and relations rather than innate characteristics.