Artist dedicates two years to paint portrait of his idol
Many think the job of art is to help us escape reality, but what if an artwork is such a convincing depiction of reality
that you can’t tell if it is an artwork at all? This is the exciting realm of Hyperrealism, a genre of art where the
artist produces images of such technical realism that they resemble high resolution photography.
Mark Rutledge is one of New Zealand’s leading Hyperrealists. This Auckland based artist takes to the canvas to depict
his heroes, the people who inspire him. As a self-proclaimed rocker, it is often his musical heroes that he chooses to
immortalise in paint. For his most recent work, Californian musician Brant Bjork the drummer for rock band Vista Chino
became the subject matter.
Rutledge followed a lengthy process to create the piece, first meeting with and photographing Brant with the help of
photographer Petrice Rhodes. Next the photograph was interpreted onto canvas in pencil before layers of oil paint were
built up to achieve the immense realism. Rutledge worked on this piece over two years putting in thousands of hours at
the canvas and using magnifying glasses to render tiny regions of the image. If it wasn’t for the slight brush marks in
the clear varnishing of the work you would find no indication that this is a painting. As seeing-is-believing, he
captured the process on a time-lapse recorded on his phone.
Rutledge’s paintings serve as a pause, a magnification of a moment in time, offering a profoundly personal perspective
on his subjects. The laborious effort taken to render an icon comes to speak of celebrity culture in general and the
accumulated hours of imagery the average person is exposed to through the proliferation of media.
The first hyperrealists emerged in the 1970s in the US and UK, with artists such as Chuck Close and Ralph Goings.
Technological and photographic advancements in recent years have since seen a refinement of the hyper realistic
technique, improving the level of definition and sharpness of the paintings. The approach continues to allure viewers as
it challenges the limits of human vision.
Mark Rutledge’s impressive painting will be on show from October 7- 31 as part of Black Door Gallery’s exhibition Human Condition. The work will be shown alongside 20 leading New Zealand artists who will explore the depiction of the human figure.
Visit blackdoorgallery.co.nz for further details.