Hyperrealism vs. Photorealism
Hyperréalisme is a term coined by the French in the 1970s, but it came to full fruition in the U.S. and Europe in the 1990s ( cf. Jeff Koons). Hyperrealism is generally thought of as an advancement of Photorealism of the 1960s/’70s. While hyperrealists tend to
infuse their works with emotion, startling beauty, detail, sensuality, and even narrative and humor, photorealists tended to seek the deadpan quality of Pop Art of the 1970s, as seen in Andy Warhol.
The photorealist movement was largely pioneered and supported by NYC dealer Louis K. Meisel. Photorealism as defined by Meisel is the creation of paintings fashioned in such a way as to appear to be photographs in their finished forms. In a photorealist painting, you may notice how ‘deadpan’ the emotional character of the painting is. Everything is focused on technique, and its fidelity to the original photograph’s projection to engender the painting.
Very often, Hyperrealism is rife with emotional content that Photorealism of the 1960s/’70s necessarily avoided. The hyperrealist style is also known for its smooth, perfect ‘ fetish finishes.’ In painting, this would translate to mean a completely flawless, sheenlike surface with little to no evidence of brushwork. Hyperrealism appeals to our hearts in a way that Photorealism avoided.
You can compare Jesus Navarro’s still life of lemons with that of his 18th century countryman Luis Meléndez. What post Renaissance old masters were to Spain, Navarro is to contemporary hyperrealist painting. The intervening factor is the invention of the camera and photographs, something fine painters have been striving to incorporate or outfox ever since the days of Vermeer, Netherlands, 17th century (camera obscura) to Dégas in Paris, 19th century.
An artist of the 21st century is not limited to one medium or technique anymore than he or she is limited to one particular subject. Some of Jesus Navarro's paintings could be considered hyperrealism and others photorealism. One easy way to differentiate is to ask yourself: Does this painting make me feel an emotion, or does it make me admire technique above any possible message. Now a photographic subject can obviously carry a message, and that leads to confusion.
To simplify it, if an artist has a photograph (of any subject), and she or he sets out to render that photograph, on canvas or board or whatever, in a manner to precisely copy that image to the point where the photograph and the painting side by side look identical (except, usually, for size as the painting is likely larger), then that is a photorealistic painting. If the same artist, however, had no photograph, and he or she set out to paint a scene that is so realistic that it could be mistaken for a photograph, then that is a hyperrealistic painting (photograph never having existed to compare it with the painting).
Jesús Navarro, a master painter from Spain and hyperrealist, began his career as a child prodigy. He had his first exhibition at age 15, and would later develop into a Surrealist in the line of Dalí and Magritte (1930s). In 1971, Navarro moved to Barcelona where he began a phase of self-teaching, focusing on combining classical techniques along with his newly discovered self-interests in detailed formation of compositions. The art of Jesus Navarro is found in private collections in Europe, Asia, North and South America.
Iban Navarro was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1982. Son of Spanish hyperrealist painter Jesús Navarro, Iban first became familiar with painting in his father’s workshop and began learning various painting techniques from a young age. Among all the painting techniques he learned, Iban favored watercolors as his primary materials.
Iban is skilled in the manipulation of medium in each of his works. His photorealistic compositions are completed with egg tempera and watercolor on paper, by method of mixing watercolor with egg yolk, occasionally adding oil pastel. Although this is an ancient technique, few artists have been able to master the unforgiving nature of tempera, as it dries the second it is applied to the paper.
One of his most recognizable subjects are the boats floating on hazy and transparent waters, small fisher ports, and still figures by the sea, though he is capable of realizing a vast range of still life subjects and figure portraits as well. His profound seascapes capture the tranquility and emotional depth of the sea, whether it is through depicting boats bobbing up and down from the ocean’s gentle current or placing figures at the sea rocks’ edges as they contemplate the ocean’s enormity and mystery.
The works of Iban Navarro lead us to that state of relaxation that makes us feel the sea, hear the sound of water, and send us into a resting relaxation that one feels standing on a sandy beach. He offers us moments for the liberation of the mind, reflections in the water, the smell of wood mixed with saltpeter and all the scenes that can offer us the sea thanks to its inhabitants.