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Naturally Hypernatural I: Concepts of Nature


Edited By Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach

Nature, a topic central to art history, is concurrently a dominant concept in contemporary art, art theory and its related disciplines such as cultural theory, philosophy, aesthetic theory and environmental studies. The project Naturally Hypernatural questions lines of tradition and predetermined categories that coexist with the topic of nature. Currently, nature in art surpasses the simple depiction of art as a material or object. To clarify and analyze the interrelations between nature and art is the aim of the project Naturally Hypernatural. Concepts of Nature – the first volume of this project – argues that contemporary art is predominantly concerned with concepts of nature regarding the depth of their implications in order to reveal and analyze their internal structure.

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Painting a Portrait: From the Natural to the Hypernatural



My first thought when reading the title of this conference, Naturally Hypernatural, was that of a composite. A composite for a painter is a representation of reality in which several visual elements are combined into a single image. When I portray people in my studio, I confront the challenge of capturing what I see and feel. Drawing from life, whether people, inanimate objects or landscapes, begins with finding a schematic representation on a two-dimensional surface that somehow resonates with the visual appearance and personal feelings my subjects convey. This process of picture construction, based in part on optical naturalism, records my experience and translates it into a subjective reality.

I wish to discuss this formal picture-making process, and how physical elements and aesthetic construction combine to create a composite or hypernatural image. Hypernaturalism is a quality that compounds time, visual reality, and personal subjectivity. In the course of what follows, I will explain how I combine these elements to formulate a composite or hypernatural reality in my portrait painting.

The construction of an image

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