The relationship between Dutch Realism and New Dutch Realism is interesting and complex. Not least because Dutch Realism (17th Century painting from the Dutch Golden Age) itself has a much wider context than the finely detailed figuration or painterly imitation.
Dutch Realism (paintings of the Golden Age): Dutch Realism may appear to be a faithful representation of objects in natural settings. However, on closer inspection these paintings often reveal intriguing anomalies which suggest that scenes depicted have been set to imply meaning beyond the physicality of the objects portrayed.
In this way every day objects are attributed qualities of symbol and metaphor. At the same time, the viewer is drawn towards the implied tangible subject of the painting by the clarity of observation and the precision and skill of the artist.
The viewer is overwhelmed by the representation of lavishly adorned interiors, highly polished dark wood, textured ceramic jugs, ornamented plates, gleaming glass, soft sheen pewter, clothes of richly woven fabric, delicate lace, and the subject's deep gaze returned to the viewer.
Far from being a faithful representation of a credible moment in time, spacial and temporal irregularities may often be present in one image. Intensity of image and meaning are heightened by careful juxtaposition and choice of content and dramatic use of light within a powerful compositional design.
New Dutch Realism (a contemporary genre): New Dutch Realism is, in a way, a contemporary tribute to the Golden Age of Dutch painting. It re-establishes the tradition of careful settings realised through sophisticated composition and intricately detailed passages of paint, as illustrated by the works of Qiangli Liang.
New Dutch Realism is developing from a very modern perspective. Contemporary ideas and devices join forces with a representational painting genre. For example, the picture plane may be geometrically divided whilst the actual painting technique remains set in the detailed figurative tradition.
The use of detailed figuration within symbolic and metaphoric representation is being re-invented in the 21st Century. A core of contemporary Dutch artists have created a new wave of artistic expression which pays homage to the Dutch realism of the 17th century and, at the same time, has its roots in modern realism.
The 17th century painters depicted subtle facial expressions and particular poses of the subjects. New realism may home in on the eyes of the subject, magnifying the subtlety of a glance as a way of isolating and heightening a momentary expression of emotion. Contemporary interiors and table settings echo the detailed paintings of 17th century lifestyle, drawing comparison but also defining change.
New Dutch Realism is an exciting development for contemporary painting and is attracting a wide audience of critics, collectors and exhibition goers.
Galerie Mokum in Amsterdam has a strong collection of works from this new genre. Visit the gallery to view works created by contemporary artists including Aad Hofman, Nico Heilijgers, Peter Hartwig, Karel Buskes and Qiangli Liang.
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