© Raphaella Spence

Raphaella Spence: Elliott's Flight, 2006-7
oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in

Iperrealisti - The European Photorealists

Roberto Bernardi
, Franz Gertsch, Clive Head, Bertrand Meniel, John Salt, Raphaella Spence, Bernardo Torrens

Frank Bernarducci and Louis K. Meisel are pleased to announce the group exhibition, "Iperrealisti, the European Photorealists," featuring seven Gallery artists including Roberto Bernardi, Franz Gertsch, Clive Head, Bertrand Meniel, John Salt, Raphaella Spence, and Bernardo Torrens.

In the same sense that Pop Art is typically referred to as an American Art movement, so to is Photorealism traditionally considered an American-born genre. With such renowned artists as Richard Estes, Chuck Close, and Ralph Goings at the forefront of the early Photorealist movement, such an association is plausible. However, a number of celebrated European artists have contributed to the movement and continue to do so today.

Although he moved to New York in 1970 where his Photorealist style fully developed, John Salt, born in Birmingham, England, is one of the few non-American born artists among the initial Photorealists. He returned to England in 1978 but it was during his stay in American that he discovered and developed his style and subject matter, specifically that of old, decrepit, rusty automobiles and trailer homes. While such subject matter seems less than romantic, it is the textures and compositions that are so engaging. To examine these paintings with their 1970s style Chevys and Pontiacs in this day in age also provides a sense of nostalgia.

A fellow Englishman to John Salt, Clive Head has devoted his energies to Photorealist art. Unlike Salt, however, whose style and inspiration was developed significantly in America, Head has focused his work essentially on European subject matter. His large cityscapes, predominately of England, are masterfully detailed with a photographer's eye for composition. His paintings reflect unique angles and lines which together create an expansiveness and depth that magnifies the painting's overall appearance.

The work of French born Bertrand Meniel has also been driven by the American art scene, although not specifically of New York, but rather of South Miami Beach. A frequent visitor to the region, Meniel has spent countless hours photographing the pastel colored art deco architecture for his urban-tropical cityscapes. As a third generation Photorealist, Meniel's unique subject matter and masterful attention to detail offers a superb contribution to contemporary Photorealism.

Of all the European Photorealists, the only artist to have no association with American Art is Franz Gertsch. Having spent the majority of his life in the Swiss Alps, Gertsch was not influenced whatsoever by the burgeoning New York art scene. Focusing exclusively on people, especially the female face, Gertsch's work exhibits an incredible affinity for the fine details of the human face. Along with their tremendous aesthetic appeal, the individuality and personality of his models are manifest in his paintings.

Also focusing on the figure is Bernardo Torrens, born in Madrid, Spain. As with Clive Head, Torrens is driven primarily by his culture's historical traditions. The work of such classical artists as Caravaggio and Velazquez as well as his own studies of anatomy and physiognomy has contributed to Torrens' development as a Photorealist. Painting primarily the nude female figure, Torrens focuses on realistic depictions over pure aesthetics, creating an undeniable sense of reality that offers an immediate connection between the figure and the viewer.

Incorporating a very different theme in his work is the Italian born Roberto Bernardi. At the age of only 32, Bernardi has established himself as one of Photorealism's most prolific and talented contemporary still life painters. The vibrantly colored glassware, fruits, dishes, and kitchen utensils that frequent his paintings are of the most precise and defined as ever before seen. His technical ability as a painter is displayed through the reflective surfaces and intense perception of the everyday objects he represents.

At age 28, Raphaella Spence, born in London, England and who currently lives in Todi, Italy, has also proven herself a master of the Photorealist style. A landscape painter motivated primarily by the English countryside as well as the Italian landscape, specifically that of Venice, Spence renders these scenes with utmost clarity and astonishing detail. Although the majority of her subject matter has been focused in Europe, Spence has recently, and with great success, sought inspiration along America's East Coast.

Exhibition: 25 January - 24 February, 2007
Gallery hours: Tues-Sat 10 am - 5:30 pm

Bernarducci Meisel Gallery
37 West 57th Strett
USA-New York, NY 10019
Telephone +1 212 593 3757
Fax +1 212 593 3933
Email frankb@meiselgallery.com