Jonathan Hodge, “Katrina,” oil on panel, 48 x 72 in.
Jonathan Hodge, “Katrina,” oil on panel, 48 x 72 in.

This fall Haynes Galleries is shining a light on possibilities in contemporary realism. In a special collaboration with The Art Renewal Center, Haynes Galleries presents “The Magic of Realism,” a group exhibition of paintings by a select group of contemporary artists, from October 10 to November 30, 2019, just outside Nashville, Tennessee.

The original paintings in “The Magic of Realism” were selected from The Art Renewal Center’s 2019 Salon Competition. They were chosen by Haynes Galleries founder and exhibition curator Gary R. Haynes because they had that extra something. “I was looking for works with imagination, with a different twist, and a strong narrative,” Haynes said. “I was looking for that combination of intangibles that pushed them above and beyond. The combination of all of this creates magic.”

Lucas Bononi, “Aptekareva,” acrylic on panel, 48 x 24 in.
Lucas Bononi, “Aptekareva,” acrylic on panel, 48 x 24 in.

Haynes found that combination in a select but wide-ranging group of paintings, from naturalistic studies of the human form to poetic versions of historical events, to invented and impossible scenes. These works celebrate that contemporary realism is a movement that is alive and well, and growing strong.

Related Article > Another Milestone for Contemporary Realism

Portraits and figural paintings are represented by several diverse artists. Sookyi Lee’s tender and intimate “White Gown” is as much a monochromatic vision of a young woman as an exercise in gestural brushstrokes. Sensuality is at the forefront in Anastasia Firenze’s paintings, many featuring women draped in thin fabric and in repose. And Lucas Bononi’s “Aptekareva” puts a colorful, floral, and in-your-face take on contemporary portraiture.

Fragmented and unfinished could be used to describe Ron Hicks’s figural paintings, but these purposeful explorations of shape, value, edges, and texture in paintings like “Thirsty” are unique visual avenues.

Bryony Bensly uses magical realism in her figurative paintings to reference myths and legends, and to give a voice to those who cannot speak. “Seraphim” features a young boy, delicate golden halo encircling his head, holding the seas and earth, protecting them within his arms.

Mark Heine, “Envoy,” oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in.
Mark Heine, “Envoy,” oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in.

For painter Mark Heine, a particular figure from mythology, the siren, has inspired a whole series and evolving narrative centered around this dangerous and mysterious woman. “Envoy” is one carefully chosen moment from the larger story—a moment of light and shadow, action and tension.

Jonathan Hodge invoked one of the nation’s most memorable natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina, to contemplate a range of human emotions and conditions — tragedy, hope, survival, and danger — in a scene of people making their way through flood waters.

Bryony Bensly, “Seraphim,” oil on canvas, 35.43 x 23.62 in.
Bryony Bensly, “Seraphim,” oil on canvas, 35.43 x 23.62 in.

The limits of the natural world fade away in Mark Larson’s high concept paintings of animals interacting, like “In the Tropics.” It’s an exotic take on Renaissance ceiling frescos, where arctic animals like a polar bear and seals encounter jungle counterparts including a jaguar and parrots, all set amongst trompe l’oeil architectural elements.

Mark Larson, “In the Tropics,” oil on canvas, 48 x 96 in.
Mark Larson, “In the Tropics,” oil on canvas, 48 x 96 in.

Lucia Heffernan has also used animal life for her vision that draws on art history and economics. Her American Gothic–inspired “Wall Street Gothic” replaces the farmer and his daughter with a bear and bull standing in front of the New York Stock Exchange instead of the family home.

Lucia Heffernan, “Wall Street Gothic,” oil on panel, 30 x 24 in.
Lucia Heffernan, “Wall Street Gothic,” oil on panel, 30 x 24 in.

Realism today can be any number of styles and scenes. It can speak of true events, the world around us, or things most could never imagine. The shackles of the moniker “realism” have long since been broken. “The Magic of Realism” is a collection with artists using realism to express a variety of ideas by unexpected and exceptional means. Their paintings are telling stories, igniting conversations, and expressing beauty in new, compelling ways.

For more information,visit haynesgalleries.com.

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