Lonely Hyperreal Paintings Show Moments of Social Isolation

Dutch painter Gerard Boersma uses hyperreal painting to reflect upon our overly-connected, yet ultimately disconnected society.

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Jun 10 2017, 11:55am

All images courtesy of the artist.

Rather than remain in the realm of metaphor and symbolism, Dutch painter Gerard Boersma takes a decisively direct approach to hyperrealist painting. Depicting glimpses of everyday life across the globe in stunning detail, the world becomes his canvas, one which he makes sure to render with utmost faithfulness.

Although his works are jarringly realistic, Boersma seems to use reality along a spectrum of sorts. In some of his paintings, scenes are nearly perfectly reproduced, possessing a quality that makes them nearly indistinguishable from photographs when viewed at a glance. In other works, Boersma takes a more painterly approach, allowing the brushstrokes to remain more visible, feeling utterly surreal when viewed in quick succession to his more photographic paintings.

Bar In Vegas, Gerard Boersma, 2014

The allusions to photography make sense when considering the nature of Boersma's artistic process: "I take long walks with my camera through my hometown and major cities, and I take pictures of what impresses me the most," he explains to Creators. "The scenes I paint are usually gone in a second, so a photo comes in handy."

"You can imagine that, by the time I've set up my easel, everybody in the store has paid and already moved on. Plus, no one wants to pose in store for a month," the artist jokingly adds. "So, working from photographs, it is!"

The Surroundings, Gerard Boersma, 2004

Despite being overwhelmingly enamored with, focused on, and talented with his varying degrees of hyperrealism, this wasn't always the case for Boersma: "When I first started out, I pained in a more or less impressionistic mode. This wasn't by choice; I just couldn't do better. But in due time, I figured that I could paint those crooked lines a little bit straighter. And so, I did. Bit by bit, I slowly progressed, until one day, someone got confused as to whether they were looking at a photograph or not."

Once his mastery over the brush became more pronounced, impressionism gave way to realism, a facet of his practice he seems deeply proud of: "What I truly love about painting in a hyper-realistic mode is the skill and craftsmanship that goes into it. I can really dive into a painting, and totally lose track of time and space," tells Boersma. "And when I use, for example, a grey to paint a jacket and then use the same color to paint a piece of steel, it feels like magic to me."

The Art Bubble, Gerard Boersma, 2009

"Besides liking the craftsmanship, I also paint realistically because it's important to me and my practice that the viewer fully recognizes the scenes I'm painting, and to became aware of these scenes in their own lives," he adds.

Beyond their shared realism, Boersma's paintings are also unified in their typically oblivious subject matter, often with their backs turned in total unawareness to the viewer. This isn't incidental: "Nowadays people are very individualistic and totally caught up in their own affairs. There are so many ways of communicating these days, yet there is hardly any heartfelt contact in public spaces," he explains. "That's why I paint my figures unaware of each other and the viewer too. In a way, my work is about hoping for the best by pointing out the worst."

Big Books, Gerard Boersma, 2015

The Smoker (Selfportrait), Gerard Boersma, 2006

The Thinker, Gerard Boersma, 2010

Candy Shop, Gerard Boersma, 2014

Red Marilyns, Gerard Boersma, 2016

For more of Gerard Boersma's hyperreal paintings commenting on the contemporary condition, be sure to check out his website here.

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