Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Beach 150" (2005) by Hilo Chen

Hilo Chen (1942, Taiwan) is a Photo-Realist painter. Between 1961 and 1966 he studied Architectural Engineering at Chung Yien College in Taiwan. In 1968 he moved first to Paris, and then to New York City. His work is in the collection of the Guggenheim New York.

Is this fine-art? Here's a quote from Modern Art in the Common Culture by Thomas Crow:

"But the vernacular-based nature of its means of representation (which distinguished it from most Pop painting), meant that it could not remain securely within a fine-art context. Its brief prominence provided a license for certain forms of out-and-out kitsch (the California pin-ups of Hilo Chen, for example), which had the effect of dragging the meaning of the whole practice back into the realm of the uncultivated and naive."

Observations that Chen's work might be a commentary on commercial culture are probably a stretch. His paintings are primarily exercises in technique applied to popular imagery. A painter would question why one would want to paint a photograph. Didn't photography release painting from the drudgery of documentative realism?

Galleries representing his work, and more images, are here and here, and a discussion of his work featuring commenters screaming 'offensive!' and 'porn!' is here.

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vorpalbunny said...

Ya gotta love anyone that can get painting to that fine a level of detail, regardless of whether or not you like the content. Heck, even with "photorealistic" materials graphics, it is hard to get to that on a rendering program today. Gotta respect the effort no matter what, so the "porn" critics can back off a little, huh?

David J. Angelovich said...

I agree that it's not offensive, nor porn, but a more interesting question is: is it art?