I’ll give you a moment to adjust your glasses. No, these are not photographs of some strange devices from another era. Yes, you are right, none of them are real. In fact, they are all quite fake, figment of imagination. What you have the privilege to gaze upon are Oil paintings by Jeff Bartels. This inspiring Canadian artist paints highly detailed oil paintings which combine elements of hyperrealism with surrealism. Therefore, his latest hyperrealistic oil painting series goes by the name of Alternative Artifacts. Enjoy the “Inception”!
Alternative Artifacts examines the often confusing and deceptive “post-truth era” we live in. Time where we no longer see facts as absolute. They are malleable and can be manipulated to push an agenda or opinion. The name is a play on a term which came from a Trump administration official. He referred to falsehoods coming from the government as “alternative facts”.
Each object in the series features an antique that never existed. They are meant to mislead the viewer into believing something that isn’t true. The objects appear to be absurd but they are presented with such precise detail that their stories can almost be believed. This blurring of lines between what is real and what is not reflects our present day. Extremist governments gaslight their own people, propaganda outlets pose as news organizations and social media networks spread conspiracy theories.
I use a hyperreal oil painting technique because I want the objects to be as convincing as possible. I want the viewer to have the conflict of seeing something absurd presented as if it were real. Deep black background surrounds each antique, removing any point of reference for the viewer to hold on to. This singular focus on the object mirrors the practice of cherry picking facts in order to push a falsehood.
Hyperrealistic Alternative Artifacts in the Future?!
For you that are excited about this collection, I have some good news. Jeff is continuing to work on the series, and it’s about half way there. As Jeff pointed out, having a large number of objects fits in with the post truth concept. He wants to overwhelm people with lots of “information” in order to add to the confusion. I agree, and can’t wait to see more! How about you?!
Visual content courtesy of Jeff Bartels.
For another post about wonderful surreal paintings, click here.