I was laying around at my house, knocked out from the heat, when I inadvertently ran into a video on YouTube about how to draw realistic art.
The video showed, in fast-forward, someone drawing a picture of a wineglass with red wine that looked so realistic it felt like you could reach out to grab it and take a sip.
Normally I would find these kinds of videos tedious and end up passing right by them, so I was surprised to find myself watching it from beginning to end.
But what really amazed me was, naturally, the way the finished product looked. The person who made the video was clearly a great artist, but it seemed that even an amateur or someone with very little talent could get a good result if they just understood a handful of techniques.
I guess the video is relevant to what’s been on my mind lately. I was thinking that I wanted to go out to a museum or see some kind of exhibition, and when I looked through the information on what was happening in the city, I came across one with the theme “visible, yet hidden”.
The exhibit featured a Chinese artist named Liu Bolin. His artistic photography is created by combining the trompe l'oeil technique with painting full human bodies.
I mentioned this in a previous post, but the Italians love their trompe l'oeil paintings. Even the Teatro Olimpico, constructed in the 1500s in Vicenza, and the Santa Maria presso San Satiro church in Milan both contain trompe l'oeil art.
I wonder if Bolin was intrigued by the fact that Italians are so fond of trompe l'oeil. After all, he selected the Teatro alla Scala and cathedrals in Milan as the scenes for creating his artistic works.
As you can probably see if you look hard enough at the photo above, Bolin paints full bodies that seem to dissolve into the background.
When I first saw this exhibit, I only glanced at the works superficially. They didn’t interest me all that much, since I saw them as playful creations of an artist that was only addressing sweepingly huge themes. The more I paid attention, however, the more I was inspired by the social message that Bolin was also trying to communicate.
For example, Europe has struggled in recent years with the problem of bringing in refugees. When they started risking their lives to cross the ocean in ships bound for Europe from the African continent, the first place they landed was southern Italy, and accepting them has been a serious issue for the country since then. Bolin’s artistic photographs speak to this social issue.
Social media has the benefit of allowing us to communicate with the world; it also creates a seemingly lawless space where anything goes. Bolin’s illusionist art forces us to think about our modern world, where we are identified and tracked without our being aware of it.