Art Pick: Radical Realism
Refigured: Radical Realism
Dougherty Arts Center
February 10 – March 10
by Neal Baker
Artwork by Denise M. Fulton
For many years, the modern art landscape has been dominated by conceptual and abstract works. Meanwhile, the realist tradition has seemed sidelined. Now realism is about to get its due with a new exhibition at the Dougherty Arts Center. Running February 10 through March 10, the exhibition, “Refigured: Radical Realism,” showcases Austin artists involved in a modern revival of this style of figurative art.
In addition to the contrast with conceptual art, the resurgence of realism, a style that highlights deeply observed details, is particularly notable because of its history. The way we depict people has always spoken to what we find important — classical sculpture suggested that in the body there lies potential toward a godly ideal, and the studied detail of Renaissance painting paralleled the preoccupation with knowledge and enlightenment of the time. Realism sprang from an era of social change, beginning after the French Revolution of 1848, and was used by many as a contrast to Romanticism. Now that this kind of art is finding a foothold again, it brings with it uniquely honest messages about how people see themselves. And, amid a difficult social and political climate, art concerned with people and their reality presents an opportunity to think about identity and truth.
Wander in any day you like or come to one of the scheduled events. The opening reception takes place February 16 from 6 to 8 p.m., and on February 21, there will be a “date night” from 7 to 9 p.m., where couples of any kind are invited to be taught by Austin artists how to paint and be painted.