ARTIST STATEMENT - INTERVIEW WITH DENIS PETERSON
What is photorealism?
"Photorealism is an ongoing pop culture phenomenon wherein painters use some mechanical means to recreate sterile photographic images of mundane subject matter oftentime depicted as an ascerbic social statement of our culture and as an aesthetic. Photoreal paintings challenge the viewer to distinguish between perception and knowledge. Hyperreal paintings challenge the viewer to distinguish between perception and illusion."
Then what is hyperrealism? Isn't it really the same thing?
"As a recognized subset of photorealism, hyperrealism takes into account a process of simulation that emphasizes digital degradation, defects and deficiencies of pictorial elements in modern photography and digital imagery. Therefore, content of subject matter is a separate medium through which viewers can connect to reality through the falsity and simulation of the image, which ironically is convincing. While I rely upon digital photographs as aesthetic references, I create simulations of reality rather than representations (Photorealism) of simulations (photos) which themselves are already representations of reality. In other words, Photorealism depicts an illusion of photography while Hyperrealism depicts an illusion of reality. Subtle distinctions, yet significant."
How do you relate your hyperrealism style to how subjects are depicted?
"I utilize multiple depths of field, extreme focus angles, compressed spatial relationships and liberal image cropping to bring the viewer into my paintings and beyond the hyperreality of simulation. Ethereal lighting and shading further capture images both in time and in space to draw a visceral reaction from the viewer. I do not paint still objects, but layers of light that define objects in hyperreal compositions. This is the essence of photorealism in the tradition of the Venetian and Flemish masters. As such, I have sought to create these paintings in a compelling and contemporary airbrush painting style that has artistic merit."
Your work seems to be aimed at social and political imbalances. Aren't you afraid of upsetting your audience?
"My current series on human oppressions was designed to be provocative. It has focused on diasporas, genocides and refugees around the globe as a political challenge to all governments through visually disturbing and highly charged emotive hyperreal images that have irrevocably recorded an abhorrent period in history marking the decadence of the human condition. At the same time, I have felt it important to underscore the strength and dignity of the human spirit as found among survivors."