Tjalf Sparnaay Megarealist Painting

Tjalf Sparnaay: A Feast For The Eyes

It seems quite apt that I have just rediscovered the work of Dutch artist Tjalf Sparnaay when the festive period is upon us. We all know we’ll feast, eat and perhaps slightly regret it over Christmas so here are a few paintings to whet your appetite…

Tjalf Sparnaay’s photo realistic paintings confront us with super sized colourful food that make you mouth water. He calls it “megarealist” and they certainly are. Tjalf Sparnaay’s large oil’s allow the viewer to re-evaluate reality and to rediscover exactly what our being is, what sustains us. It’s hard to believe his work isn’t just photographs. Feast your eyes on these…

Tjalf Sparnaay Megarealist Painting - Chips

Tjalf Sparnaay Megarealist Painting

Tjalf Sparnaay Megarealist Painting - Egg

Tjalf Sparnaay Megarealist Painting

Tjalf Sparnaay Megarealist Painting

  See more of his work here. For more inspirational art and features on Brogues In A Coffee Bar click here and don’t forget you can see updates and follow me on Twitter! Are you hungry now?

Phillip Harris Painting

Philip Harris: Hyperrealism

Philip Harris’s work first confronts the viewer because of it’s scale, featured in REALITY: Modern and Contemporary Painting which I recently reviewed here, his work was in the first room of the exhibition and the large oil on linen painting ‘Arizona Bloom’ (2014) quite literally took my breath away…

Philip Harris 'Arizona Bloom'

Painted over the space of a decade ‘Arizona Bloom’ (above) is authoritative and stunningly detailed. It is as if Philip Harris has plonked him on the land and he doesn’t quite belong. The more you look at the man, the more grey and sandy landscape tints pink and red.

Philip Harris’s portraits are suspended in a dream like scene, the subjects are caught in a moment that is of great significance to the painter but the scene hides so many clues about what the encounter reveals. He leaves the viewer guessing. In ‘S.P. Behind A Glass Door’ (2001, below) a man appears trapped behind a glass door, the condensation from his breath forming on the glass. S.P, whoever that may be, addresses us directly and the multiple frames painted in the wide scene directs your eye straight to him. Is he the gardener? A builder? There is something that tells me he doesn’t belong in the prison he seems to be trapped in. What do you think?

Phillip Harris Painting

See more of Philip Harris’s hyper real paintings on his website here.

John Keane Painting 'Hopless In Gaza'

REALITY: Modern & Contemporary Painting at The Sainsbury Centre

Perhaps one of the best exhibition’s of contemporary painting that I have ever seen. I’d like to introduce to you REALITY: Modern & Contemporary Painting at The Sainsbury Centre. I feel privileged to live so close to this stunning museum that is linked to The University of East Anglia, the collections at The Sainsbury Centre represent some of the most remarkable works of art spanning an astonishing 5000 years of history. From ancient Greece and Roman artefacts to important works by Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti. However, in this new exhibition curated by Chris Stevens REALITY: Modern & Contemporary Paintings celebrates the strength of British painting from the past 60 years in an uncompromising and direct display of artwork from the small oil painting to larger than life canvases. Featuring an all British cast of artists such as: Bacon, Lowry, Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer and David Hockney all of the artists exhibited in REALITY are committed to creating figurative work which tells a narrative. They have explored the world as they experience it and without dwelling too much on the clichéd stereotype of the starving artist each piece of work shows a harshness and truth to the world that is unsurprisingly quite uncomfortable to be confronted with. As it says in the exhibition catalogue, which is a stunning publication in it’s own right…

REALITY draws us towards the more gritty substance of both the everyday occurrences and strange imagines scenarios – each one of them leading us to an experience that is every bit real.

I love a bit of realism to shake off the cobwebs! The artist’s in REALITY have the amazing ability of detach from their subject matter whilst revealing it completely. They’ve stripped off the polish of how British life is portrayed and have given it back it’s actuality. I am sure most of us are aware of what it thought to be typically British… Tea, crumpets, bunting and cute summer fetes. However, what stands out most in REALITY is the artist’s sense of humour whilst they play with the reality of what it truly means to be British. I have to admit I won’t be featuring my favourite paintings (namely by artists Anthony Green, Phillip Harris and Clive Head) in this review – they deserve a post all to themselves, so instead I will talk about the true essence of the exhibition. Realism, fear, mortality and poverty.

 One of the first pieces you’re confronted with in the entrance to REALITY is ‘Hopeless In Gaza’ by John Keane. Emerging from a larger project consisting of observations made when travelling through the occupied territories of Israel. He has used photography under painting to create a blurred effect, as if you are actually standing in the scene being shaken by the bombs. A boy is being shielded by the man, making it a harrowing image to look at. This sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition…

John Keane Painting 'Hopless In Gaza'

By far the most distressing painting for me shown in REALITY is the piece above by Carel Weight, titled ‘Fury’ (1961). In quite a large scale Carel Weight encapsulates a moment of childhood fear that everyone has been through. Whether the two boys pictured running have been caught in a mischievous act or not, they are painted running away from an enraged man wielding a club. As a police man approaches one lad stumbles in his escape. Doesn’t it evoke a feeling of humiliated panic? As well as showing Britain’s urban landscape in the early 60’s the scene is timeless, perhaps evoking those wayward childhood memories.

Carel Weight Painting 'Fury'

Another large painting on display which conjures up the British sense of humour is the piece below by Alan MacDonald. Painted only in 2013 ‘Spam Dragon’ (below) on the surface is strange. When one looks closer witty paraphernalia from modern life is juxtaposed with people and scenery from the past, perhaps the heyday of British painting. However, smoke ruins the distant landscape and there is that feeling that something is just not right.

Alan McDonald Painting 'Span Dragon'

And talking about the weird and wonderful, Ken Currie’s ‘Dirty King’ (below) certainly is a very uncomfortable painting to look at. Ken Currie has a nack of creating ethereal figures and ghostly scenes. You know the subjects are there and yet you question whether they are real people, there is a hazy glow around the apparition reflected in ‘Dirty King’. Is he bathing in luxury? Has he fallen from grace? The ‘Dirty King’ seems to be treading in something not very nice and his bald patch certainly reveals a grisly side to royalty. An overwhelming feeling of pity came to me when taking in this painting, followed by a unsettling ghostly feeling. Not something I would usually feature on Brogues In A Coffee Bar but certainly thought provoking…

Ken Currie Painting 'Dirty King'

The artists in REALITY tackle a diverse range of subjects, referencing the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues. Despite these different references, the works are all united by two things – the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades and the simple act of painting. It shows that painting, as an art form is not dead there are so many comments now-a-days about art schools not specialising in painting but REALITY: Modern & Contemporary Painting really is a stunning exhibition.

Tickets are just £8 so there is no excuse to not miss it! Buy them here and find out more about The Sainsbury Centre on their website. I will be writing in depth about my other favourite artists featured here so keep checking back for more.

Samantha French Underwater Painting

Underwater Paintings by Samantha French

Exploring the idea of escape, tranquility and nostalgia for lazy summer days and childhood, Samantha French’s underwater paintings are truly magical. They remind me of a photo once taken of my brother underwater at a Florida theme park, I love the colours in her work and having personally found water extremely difficult to paint, French has the light and reflections just right. Her work is fun, bright and bold. Original oil’s range from $8,000 upwards. However, you can also buy prints of selected pieces on her Etsy storesmall size from $26 and limited edition large format (24″ x 31″) for £550… I want one!

Mary Jane Ansell - 'Little Victories' (Oil on Panel, 14 x 26 inches)

Contemporary Portraiture by Mary Jane Ansell & Leah Yerpe

It is not often that I gravitate towards portraiture, and I would certainly not hang a portrait in my home. However, the work by Mary Jane Ansell and Leah Yerpe have really captured me – they’re beautiful.

Working on up to 20 paintings at a time Mary Jane initially sketches out the scenes with props and then photographs her models and meticulously whittles down the images to work from when creating the final painting. It is this attention to detail that gives her work a real depth. Despite standing alone in their own right, her recent portraits ‘Contemporary Romanticism’ picture girls wearing military outfits in elegant, whimsical poses. I adore how the flashes of regal red warm up the model’s skin tone.

Similar to Mary Jane Ansell’s early artwork Brooklyn, NYC artist Leah Yerpe is influenced by mythology. She allows her models to move freely as they like and her portraits show them multiplied in different shapes, twisting, floating and falling over the paper. Sometimes flowing, sometimes sharp and contorting as if caught within the frame. This freedom is contrasted by her fastidious drawing technique – the detail is just fantastic…

Follow Leah Yerps blog here and buy prints of Mary Jane Ansell’s work on her online shop.