American Art Collector Magazine
Current Group Show
June 16-July 1, 2012
51 Greene Street
New York, NY 10013
Steve Diamant’s Arcadia Gallery is at the forefront of the realism movement. By representing artists like Brad Kunkle, Jeremy Lipking, Malcolm Liepke, Robert Liberace, Ron Hicks, and Daniel Sprick, Arcadia is one of a handful of galleries that has set a standard of quality when it comes to what is termed classical realism.
Now, however, Diamant believes the word classical needs to be replaced by contemporary. His new exhibition, Sur-Realism, pulls together a group of artists who, while painting in a representational style, are doing so in a contemporary rather than classical way.
“My goal for this exhibition was to ‘shake things up,’” says Diamant. “It seems to me that so much of contemporary representational painting is looking the same...some kind of rehash of academic work that has already been done...and done by better artists.”
Diamant hopes his new exhibit will show that there are artists working today going about their work in a completely different manner.
“I went looking for painters who are skilled, but whose imagery is vibrant, exciting and unlike anything that one will see in galleries showing representational painting,” says Diamant. “This show is about featuring contemporary realists who are painting what is going on today and not 100 years ago... what good are the skills artists are developing if they’re not speaking to what is going on today? The great painters in history did not go backward...they plowed ahead. These painters are young, skilled and exciting.”
Diamant wants to try and redefine what people think of when it comes to realist painting today.
“I have every bit of respect for classical realists,” says Diamant. “But I think that phrase is overused and connotes a certain type of imagery. Contemporary realism means someone who is doing representational work but the imagery is evocative of what is going on today.”
Sur-Realism, which includes new works by emerging artists like Ryan Bradley, Laura Sanders, Martin Wittfooth, John Brosio, Damon Lehrer, Michael Rosenfeld, Shawn Fields, Rick Berry, Nancy Depew, Craig Elliott, and Brian Despain, is Arcadia’s test flight for this new direction.
“We’re looking for a response from collectors, good or bad, and want to show them that contemporary representational paintings can be exciting and visually stimulating,” explains Diamant. “With a realist gallery, people have the assumption that the work is evocative of a past period in art when it’s not.”
This idea is something that Diamant has been thinking about for quite some time. “I would call it a slow burn,” says Diamant. “Contemporary imagery doesn’t just have to be romantic or beautiful. And, it doesn’t have to be about war or occupying Wall Street. It’s about taking the skills you learned and making them your own and having them speak to what is going on today.”
Nancy Depew, Drift, oil on canvas, 40" x 60"
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