The portraits of Spanish artist Jaime Valero are an interesting example of contemporary realism that embodies the duality of simplicity and complexity. Each large-scale painting is pared down to a few basic elements seen throughout all of Jaime Valero’s work: a solitary figure typically from the shoulders up in an aquatic environment. The figures, both male and female, sometimes look out at the viewer, other times they are preoccupied with activity. While the format of each piece is minimal, it’s the painters’ acute observation of the figure that adds layers of densely packed information and visual complexity to the painting.
There are some artists who create paintings that welcome your gaze and invite you to a leisurely moment of contemplation at your own pace. Pleasant, uplifting and decorative, the artist allows the viewer control of the situation. Not so with the work of Dino Valls. These paintings push back hard, and challenge you to meet the gaze of the exquisitely crafted figures of young girls and boys – eyes that dare you to not look away, to instead face the darkness, the disturbing, and the anxious.
Ismael Fuentes is a contemporary artist whose portraits and figurative paintings are a blending of traditional techniques and genre with a modern, ironic sensibility. His painterly approach to his work always reveals the hand of the artist, with visible layers of paint building his subjects; some areas acutely observed and focused, others areas mere suggestions of an object rendered with a confidant brushmark.
Javier Arizabalo’s paintings are an incredible example of a refined technique and dedication to realism of a master painter. The oil on linen paintings have the look of photo realism as every wrinkle, pore and imperfection is captured by the artist-we are left with the impression that nothing has escaped his attention and even the smallest of details is worthy of notice.
Vicki Smith is an artist whose large scale oil on canvas paintings depict female swimmers floating in water, from above and below the surface. Her paintings are a fascinating intersection of figurative, landscape, and abstraction as the figures absorb themselves in pools of reflections and distortions of the watery landscape.
Hans Poppe is a Tanzanian born, Toronto, Canada based artist and graphic designer. His recent body of work “Fabric of Tanzania” uses the colourful patterned kitenge (East African fabric), stretched over wood panel as the foundation for his oil paintings exploring African identity.