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The terms "Photorealism" and "Hyperrealism" tend to be used interchangeably for certain kinds of realist painting - perhaps, obviously, of the most realistic kinds of painting. There may well be no practical differences in the ways the two kinds of painting are originated and elaborated. But there are surely some differences in the effect the two kinds have on the spectator. If anyone can make clear what these differences might be, it is Craig Wylie.
A true Photorealist painter glories in the photographic connection. He (or sometimes she) not only uses photographs as source material, but may even make it explicit that he is painting a photograph rather than the reality within the photograph. At the very least, the distortions inevitable to a photograph are lovingly reproduced, in full consciousness that the human eye unaided does not, cannot, perceive things that way.
Wylie is not that kind of painter. He is undoubtedly a realist: his outlines are usually hard, his forms clearly defined. He has deep concern for colour and texture, not merely because they are there, but for what they contribute to the overall composition, the patterns of tension and relaxation within the painting. Wylie's art is meticulously thought out, in its way very intellectual. It is all from reality, but reality carefully selected and rearranged in the light of the painter's very specific intentions.
In other words, Wylie is essentially a classical sort of painter: so much so that from his work we might be uncertain whether he had ever set eyes on a camera. It is notable that in discussions of his BP Portrait Prize winner K (2008), Craig talks in terms of a number of sittings - the sitter being his longtime girlfriend - rather than revealing the exact camera used and the exposures required. No doubt he does use photographs, if only as a sort of sketchbook, but the precise reproduction of one photograph in paint has never been part of his plan. All this might almost suggest too much calculation on the part of the painter, especially when he goes on to theorise about the effect of the very large scale he has chosen, but the painting itself rebuffs any such notion, coming over as quite fresh and spontaneous. And it certainly makes it clear that Wylie's painting is not the work of an adept copyist, mechanically reproducing a single photograph, but of an artist who thinks deeply and effectively about his art.
Excerpt from “Exactitude, Hyperrealist Art Today”, by John Russell Taylor (Plus One Publishing)
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