A Choreographed Chaos


In this gripping landscape, by Alexey Alpatov, a fusion of realism and abstraction is masterfully achieved. Between a sweeping palette knife and bold brushwork, a series of shapes seems to give way to recognizable form – as if the cliff were growing out from the chaos of paint. How was this effect achieved? This is the result of a marriage between vision and technique.

When I look at this painting, I see both hemispheres of Alpatov’s brain hard at work. First and foremost, there is evidence of a clear understanding of form, value, color, and edge – aspects of the painting that give it its sense of realism by accurately emulating the physics of light, and that serve the ‘readability’ of the painting through composition and the general design. Secondly, there is a strong sense of vision – the emotion felt by the painter, which informs the choice of style and breathes life into the image.

These two tools, vision and technique, are required to achieve such a painting. Make no mistake: realistic paintings such as this one, which feature bold brushstrokes and bravura, may suggest a devil-may-care approach to execution, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a highly choreographed chaos. Notice the subtle color temperature shifts in the cliff face – how the surface color saturates with warm light as the stone reflects upon itself. It all looks like an accident but its realistic accuracy reveals its secret. This was a very carefully constructed painting.

More details on how to achieve these effects in coming posts.

For a high resolution image of the painting, click this link.

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