Brent Witt (b. 1985) lives in Los Angeles but was born in Wisconsin and began training at 18 at Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art + Design with a focus on illustration. After his own research and discoveries in art history, he turned his attention to the Old Masters, and eventually made his way to the Florence Academy of Art to pursue a traditional approach to drawing and painting.
Witt — who is also an actor and model — now predominantly paints ﬁgures and portraits (as well as some notable landscapes) in oil: some in a tight, realistic style inspired by an academic approach and others incorporating more graphic geometric elements, likely inspired from his illustration days, using a looser hand. When looking through his portfolio, one can also detect a sense of directness and daring in the works: Witt is using his ability to paint realistically to send both straightforward and subtle messages — some tongue-in-cheek, others with a mild dose of facetiousness, others with deadpan truthfulness. Either way, we experience a sense of curiosity and mystery about what the artist was thinking and about the subject pictured, a trait sometimes lacking in others’ work with a strong focus on technique or verisimilitude.
There is another section of Witt’s work wherein he becomes a biographer and paints not only his sitter’s appearance but also his or her life story. One example is a posthumous portrait of his grandfather, done with careful observation and attention to detail. “Painting my grandpa was a very satisfying and unique experience,” the artist remembers. “I spent countless hours observing him in ways I never had before. We all have an idea of what family and friends look like from the time we spend together, but rarely do we have the chance to really study one’s features and nuances to tell a story. This painting was done for a family member, so it was not only an honor but also a challenge to capture his likeness and essence as we all remembered him.”
Visit Brent Witt’s website at www.brentwitt.com.