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Denis Petterson

"Don't Shed No Tears" 24"x36" Acrylic and oil on canvas, 2006


Photorealism is an ongoing pop culture phenomenon wherein painters use some mechanical means to recreate sterile photographic images of mundane subject matter oftentime depicted as an ascerbic social statement of our culture and as an aesthetic. As a recognized subset of Photorealism,
Hyperrealism takes into account a process of simulation that emphasizes digital degradation, defects and deficiencies of pictorial elements in modern photography and digital imagery. Therefore, content of subject matter is a separate medium through which viewers can connect to reality through the falsity and simulation of the image, which ironically is convincing.


I combine opaque and transparent painting techniques to achieve a wider range of lighting effects. Airbrushing allows me the luxury of blending my colors optically, that is, during the process of painting. By not pre-mixing colors on a palette, I can make immediate decisions during the process of simulated image creation, giving me much greater latitude for spontaneous and immediate adjustments.


(Above) airbrushed portraits of rural Darfur refugees were executed in an earthy tonal style. The muted sentimental character of these hyperreal paintings further contributes to the simulation of reality. To that end, I exploit digital photographs as source materials. Multi-layered lighting and shading in each of my paintings creates, in effect, a simulation of reality - hence hyperreality. Airbrushing is the perfect means for masking and perverting reality and then masking the absence of reality. With the adroit use of an airbrush,
I can effectively create the illusion of a representation of a representation. Some critics see photorealism as a classical pop artform that had its day in the 70's and the 80's. They fail to recognize that the movement continues to grow with the development of digital photography. It has given photorealism new horizons to be explored.

Hyperrealism is in the forefront of that exploration, as illustrated above.


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