Could it be that surreal art is more real than attempts at realism?
I have a deep respect for any artist who can make a landscape, or a portrait, look like the original view, but the longer I live, the more it seems to me that surrealism is more accurate.
For example, go inside any building, even a modern one that’s been built with high-tech equipment and methods and see if every corner in that building is perfectly angled. Most of the buildings I visit don’t have any such perfection. Perfect angles and perfect circles seem to be out of our grasp. Tile work drifts as it gets laid. Wood gets warped after being cut. Metal gets bent in the process of installation.
A perfect picture might not be something we can make either. Just about any artist will say they are their own worst critic. They can take the compliments they receive from others, and accept the compliments, but they’ll have a list of things they notice that are wrong with their art. Show an artist something they created and they’ll be able to pick out the flaws instantly. An objective eye can say the art is beautiful, even though the one who created it is dissatisfied.
Even nature though, can make beautiful mistakes. Our realities our immersed in the unreal. A rose is one of many things in nature that is pleasing to the eye, but not necessarily symmetrical. And a tattoo of a rose? Don’t even get me started on that. And how about a photo of a tattooed rose? Ha! Three degrees of separation there, and we still recognize the intended form. Whether or not any of it is appealing is up to the person looking.
That’s a digression of sorts. This isn’t about appealing versus non-appealing. It’s about real versus fantasy. I’m of the opinion that the more fantastic a realistic piece gets, the more it mimics the actual world.
People’s faces are another thing. If you painted someone symmetrically, with all sides of their face proportional, and all the attachments of that face the same size, the picture would only be a representation. People have different sizes of ears, different sizes of nostrils, different landscapes of brow and cheek and chin on either side of their face—on the same face. Even their skulls have asymmetrical sides, so why not the flesh that covers it? And people get more uneven the older they get. They lose teeth. They lose hair. They gain hair in odd places. They get blemishes and scars and moles and pimples. There are so many things that change a face, we might even say that the changes are surreal. The end from the beginning certainly is. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying through their false teeth.