Sunday, May 26, 2024

Beyond The Canvas

When we hear the word painter our first thought might be artist or house painter.

There is painting with a specific purpose like murals which are created to tell a story. There is also trompe l’oeil, verisimilitude such as to deceive the viewer into thinking that a flat surface, i.e. 2-dimensional, is actually 3-dimensional. William Harnett’s 1879 painting ‘The Artist's Letter Rack” is just one example of the long tradition.

What sparked this Missive is a story of a trompe l’oeil mural that has gone viral. Etienne Constable of Seaside, California received a letter from the city requiring him to build a 6-foot fence in order to hide the boat in his yard. He did as he was told and then “poking the bear” hired his friend and neighbor, Hanif Panni, to paint a replica of that boat on the fence!

He did not get the flack you might have expected but rather a lot of publicity and the city of Seaside took it well. Here he is being high-fived by the Police Chief and acting City Manager.

Among a number of recent murals in the city of Quebec is this huge work completed in 1999 by a team of French and Quebec artists. It recounts the story of Québec City, weaving in visual allusions to its unique architecture and fortifications, and its larger-than-life personalities. Look closely at the building's windows and you'll see some 15 historic figures and nearly a dozen of Québec's leading writers and artists. It's a breathtaking feat of storytelling, and its trompe l’oeil vista of an additional street makes it a bit disorienting as well.

A friend and artist, Angela Caban, uses painting to create faux architecture. For instance, if you have a banal guest bathroom that you want to enliven with floral fantasy Angela can give you a complete garden in which to place your sink and toilet!

If you don’t want a garden in the bathroom you might consider the upgrade that Angela did to a client’s bedroom. Here you can see three of Angela’s steps towards creating a grand architectural illusion.

Tate Britain has used the term illusionism to describe a painting that creates the illusion of a real object or scene. It seems an apt term for the work of painters with skill who can transform our world.

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