What is painting? From figurative to abstract, photorealistic to surreal, there are an ever-growing number of approaches to the genre. Discover five contemporary artists from the Aesthetica Art Prize 2021 longlist – showcasing innovative ideas, technical skill and spatial awareness.
The intricate patterns in Trapped Light speak of transience – a moment frozen in time. Regardsoe created this piece painstakingly over many hours, preserving the underwater figure like an insect in amber. The results are hyperrealistic, capturing dappled light bouncing off the water. A fractional second’s difference would cause radical changes in the composition; it can never be replicated.
In Woolscape, Jae Young Park draws upon the form of the novel Our Twisted Hero – a South Korean text charting Korea’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. Through this piece, Park asks questions about intellectual oppression and the many people connected to each other in society. Bright red stitches come together in the shape of a knitted can – a surreal object set against a seascape.
Ian Robinson’s work focuses on people’s hobbies and passions, as well as their collections. Robinson’s still-life studies are a visual exploration of ownership – that of trophies or memories – as well as the intensity of meaning and emotion in our accumulation of material things. His brightly coloured, photorealistic paintings show collections of books, objects and records. What do our possessions mean for our sense of self?
Emma May Riley creates still-life realism paintings. The works all have a common theme: to connect with small pleasures often overlooked in today’s fast paced society. Riley aims to provoke a physical and emotional response in the viewer. Rainbow Glass of Water challenges us to pause, enjoying the simplicity of water droplets and ice cubes. It brings to mind the sounds of clinking glass on a hot summer’s day.
Formal Balance is the result of improvisation and controlled automatism. Quintero’s main focus is on researching and observing our relationship with composition. How does the world around us influence our movements? How do shapes interact? Inspired by the Bauhaus, the principles of design and the Gestalt theory, the painting Winter Blues explores the way in which we perceive our surroundings.
The Aesthetica Art Prize is open for entries until 31 August. Win £5,000, publication and exhibition.
We celebrate all forms of creativity, from painting to sculpture, photography to digital art. Submit here.