Click on photos to enlarge.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Illusional Art

Look once, then look again.
Giving a whole new meaning to the
term "self-portrait." Oleg Shuplyak
We all like to think our art has sufficient depth to claim that there is "more than meets the eye" at first glance. For example, take the painting of the angler (above) attempting to land a "big one." Then look at it a second time. WHOA! Is that a naked woman in the rocks? What a lovely face on that fish! What you're looking at is what I call Illusional Art, though others prefer "illusionary art" or perhaps one of a couple more designations. In any case, such work is what makes art fun. Maybe this suggests the real reason the guy goes fishing. The Ukrainian painter, Oleg Shuplyak (right) is one of the best at this type of art, and one of the most prolific. Such work is often a matter of simply rendering one painting within another, which is the tack Shuplyak usually takes (below). Study each painting separately for a moment. Such work takes a great deal of ingenuity and forethought. The bird (bottom-right) took me longer than any of the others to "see through." (Yes, there's only one bird.) The van Gogh tribute is especially clever while the nude figure by the water is much simpler to decipher. Works employing trees are simpler than others in that tree branches can be made to twist and turn in virtually any manner the artist needs to form his illusion. Another self-portrait (below, right) is much more in keeping with the artist other works of this type.
Some are easier to "read" than others.
Oleg Shuplyak Self-portrait.
As with all other types of art, paintings employing illusions similar to those of Shuplyak, are not all created equal. I've chosen only the best examples to present here, but more often than not those attempting such works succeed only minimally, and far more often fail miserably. This is not easy art, though Shuplyak may make it look that way. If you choose to explore examples of this type of painting on your own, expect to have to plow through some distressingly poor efforts, and very often what amounts to simply bad art. Illusional art was an offshoot of the Surrealism movement. Though all such works tend to be somewhat surreal, not all Surrealism is illusional. Of course, when we think of Surrealism we think first of the Spanish master of such works, Salvador Dali. Dali didn't invent Surrealism, but he could easily be said to have invented illusional Surrealism. Although a few other Surrealist painters such a Rene Magritte had toyed with such illusions, Dali does not play around. His works of this type (below) are the gold standard by which Shuplyak, Octavio Ocampo, and others are measured.

Dali's Exploding Head (top-left) and the elderly couple (top-right) have become classics, though the latter goes by several names, none of which I can authenticate.
It has even been attributed to Ocampo (either by himself or others).
On a par with (perhaps even surpassing) the work of Shuplyak, is that of Octavio Ocampo (below). The man is good, though he's no Salvador Dali. There is, however, a good deal of similarity as to their style and their palettes. Like Dali also, Ocampo goes far beyond simply toying with illusions, as seen in his The Evolution of Man (below). Ocampo's major weakness seems to be that his work, overall, is somewhat uneven in quality.

Ocampo's Calvary (bottom-left) is extremely effective in so many ways. His portrait of Jimmy Carter (bottom-center) is likewise outstanding, though it needs to be seen on a much larger scale to appreciate its effectiveness.
The element of camouflage comes into play here.
Surrealism isn't the only art movement to have had a hand in spawning Illusional Art. Op Art kingpin, Victor Vasarely, has also dipped his brush into such works, though he seems to have largely rejected them in favor of the retinal fatigue of Op Art (optical art). Or, perhaps, in seeing what Dali was doing, decided to leave the field to the illustrious and consummate Spanish showman to exploit. Like Vasarely, quite a number of other excellent painters have tried their hand at Illusional Art, had some success at it, then decided to move on, often leaving their ef-forts as orphans without titles or attribution. The snow scene (right) and the glacial scene (below) are two such examples.

A stunning tribute to the Arctic. I was unable to ascertain the artist.
And finally, one of the earliest and best of Salvador Dali's works in the area of Illusional Art, is his 1937 Mae West (below) juxtaposed with the photo which inspired it (and no doubt served as his sole piece of resource material in painting it). The video just below the painting and photo offers a three-dimensional look at the classic piece of Illusional Art.

Mae West, 1938, Salvador Dali.
Not only illusional, but a striking resemblance under the circumstances.

How do they do that?

No comments:

Post a Comment