I’m categorized as a “realist” painter, yet I feel “out of step” with realism. The label doesn’t quite fit. My paintings are a distillation of reality rather than a duplication of reality. I do not copy nature or record life as it is but create another reality which extends the visible world. I manipulate reality, creating my own reality, a heightened reality. I fabricate situations, which may or may not be possible, but are painted in such a way that it’s believable. I’m always looking for that “turn of the screw”, the final twist or refinement that will give my painting the “edge” I strive for.
Over the past several years, I have concentrated on still life in the trompe l’oeil tradition. Trompe l’oeil is a French term which means “that which deceives the eye”. Trompe l’oeil paintings fool the viewer into believing that the depicted objects are real, casting shadows as three-dimensional objects do in very shallow space. Ideally, the result is one of totally convincing visual delusion.
Trompe l’oeil illusionism is but a lure to draw the viewer closer to and into my work. I want to bring the viewer to the verge of illusionism, only to finally assert the reality is the paint, the canvas or board, the perception. I like the deception, but I do not ultimately intend to deceive. The interval during which a painting is mistaken for the “real thing” or the “real thing” for a painting is a triumphal moment in trompe l’oeil art. The deception is momentary, but therein lays the magic….an instant of being deceived. What remains must be more than a successful simulation; it must be a work of art on its own merit.
My paintings are about transformation, are autobiographical and often have art historical reference. I have a great interest in and awareness of art history. I find that reinventing acknowledged masterpieces is a high-risk challenge. Borrowed art is often a blatant element of my compositions; its direct, undisguised. It isn’t a copy as an end, but as an integral part of my painting. The idea and intent are totally different from the original. Many of these paintings are statements about reproductions and reflect my admiration, affection and respect for the original work.
Most of my imagery is extremely personal and my paintings act as “pools of memory” as I try to articulate my inner experience. Thought is troubling and provocative: the art of painting cannot be separated from the art of thinking. – BARBARA DIXON DREWA