Art Jonathan Walteridge: painting or photography?

Jonathan Walteridge: painting or photography?

- Contributors

In Zambia (Africa), in 1972, was born one of the leading hyperrealist painters of his generation, whose work explores the influence of photography and cinema in everyday life: Jonathan Walteridge.
After his studies at the Glasgow School of Art, Jonathan moved away from painting for fifteen years. But when he came back, he did it with a bang: his works are collected by Charles Saatchi, Francois Pinault and Benedict Taschen, to name a few. 

His paintings consist of monumental canvases that, at first sight, seem photographs. According to his vision, photographed painting is more photographic than a simple shot. Photo-realism, for Jonathan, is the transposition of information that a camera can capture. On the other hand, painting is the product of the human eye: it is more fleeting, more varied. The association between film language and historical painting allows the transition from a traditional painting to a modern one. The aim of his artistic production, in fact, is precisely to mix the anachronistic with the novelty, strengthening both aspects. 

The masters he takes inspiration from are Goya, Manet, Rembrandt and Velazquez, with whom he has always perceived a deep connection given by the propensity to realism. Although Jonathan recognized that nowadays historical painting would be out of context, he knew that exploiting it would add something more true to his work. This is because, if his paintings were photographs, they would probably be accepted as “real” but, at the same time, perceived as staged. Here, instead, lies the paradox: precisely because they are painted, the viewer believes more in the image. Automatically, it’s like that scene actually existed. 

As Jonathan himself states, his work builds images that the viewer feels they have seen somewhere before, leveraging on familiarity. This is especially the case when he portrays American contexts, as in Another Place, a project in which the classic catastrophic and cinematic imagery fostered by the USA is taken up. As a Londoner, the artist expresses the modern truth so if every country presents itself as new the first time we visit it, this does not happen with America, where we have the impression of already know it because of the media. This symbolizes the influence that the United States has on our vision of the world, since their collective imagination becomes that of the whole world, having deeply rooted in the vision of each of us. 

– Read also: Titus Kaphar paints the biggest fear of African American mothers

For further information on Jonathan Walteridge, we recommend his Instagram account and site

Article by Cobie

Written by Contributors
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