This is not a painting by Alexa Meade. It’s a photograph by Alexa Meade. A self-portrait where the artist meticulously painted her own bust to look like an acrylic painting:
Not many visual artists can lay claim to widespread public recognition before they turn 25 years of age. From all the successful – or at least recognizable – artists, not many can brag to have gained entry into the annals of modern art… without ever having attended art school. Alexa Meade is such a person. She’s the kind of girl who will stand proudly as an exception to the common rules.
Reverse Trompe L’Oeil, an innovative look on portraits
It was late in 2009 that Alexa Meade first drew massive acclaim from art critics and spectators alike, with her “Reverse Trompe L’oeil” concept. After nearly a year of experimenting with acrylic paintings on three-dimensional surfaces, Alexa came up with the idea of creating an installation where models and props are meticulously splattered with brush-strokes.
It was like a breath of fresh air. A breath made of acrylic, meant to look just like a painted breath.
As you can see from the pictures that illustrate this article, The distinctive quality of Alexa Meade’s work is indeed the hyper-realist look of her make-believe canvases. While other artists explore the idea of making a canvas look closest to real, Meade focuses on the subtle process of making a real setup look like closer to a painting. And the results are nothing sort of spectacular, as you can clearly see. Many people have trouble believing these aren’t pictures of paintings.
Truth of the matter, they are all pictures of live installations wherein the photographic models are decorated to look like living paintings.
“I paint representational portraits directly on top of the people I am representing. The models are transformed into embodiments of the artist’s interpretation of their essence. When captured on film, the living, breathing people underneath the paint disappear, overshadowed by the masks of themselves.”
The creative process behind hyper-realistic acrylic paintings
According to the author, each installation will take anything from a few hours (for a simple head and shoulders shot) to over a day (for complex installations). The biggest challenge is having to finish the work and shoot the photographs in a single sitting. Since she’s using real people for canvas, it’s not like she can simply put her work on hold and come back the next day!
In a little over one year, Washington-based Alexa Meade has gained widespread fame and recognition for her growing body of work. Magdalena Sawon, a renowned art dealer in NYC has aptly pointed out how “a portrait is something that’s been with us for 3,000 years–that’s not an easy genre to move forward…This is a valid and very interesting contribution to the portrait genre.”
This young artist has earned much praise with her elegant work and her innovative applications of non-toxic acrylic paints. Whether her meteoric success was just a stroke of luck or a true stroke of genius, only time will tell. In the meanwhile, we are best reminded that art and life both imitate each other. And they work best together, too… as clearly shown in the following gallery.