September 26, 2004 10:50 PM   Subscribe

Dave Archambault's portfolio. As you view the gallery, keep this in mind- these were all done with Bic ball-point pens.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (23 comments total)
Some of those look astoundingly realistic for something penned with a Bic. Colour me impressed.
posted by The God Complex at 10:56 PM on September 26, 2004

Very nice. Would be curious to learn his approach. The draftsmanship brings to mind my favorite contemporary artist -- Kent Bellows.
posted by RavinDave at 10:58 PM on September 26, 2004

Cool. Reminds me of Chuck Close, although he hasn't gotten as flashy as Close with his photorealistic paintings done with thumbprints.
posted by malphigian at 11:03 PM on September 26, 2004

An amazing realist, which, unfortunately, is typically looked down upon. Anyway, in this case, the realism wasn't doing the happy couple any favors. Or maybe this really was a Wedding of the Undead.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:08 PM on September 26, 2004

Oh my!
posted by kamylyon at 11:15 PM on September 26, 2004

Generally, people who look down on realism are incapable of it. Probably a coincidence though. ;)
posted by RavinDave at 11:16 PM on September 26, 2004

To play devil's advocate, I'd say the argument is that realism in art, particularly this sort, is a technical achievement though a failure of artistic imagination.

Actually, I think that's true to a large degree in this case; or in any case where the goal is to "reproduce" a photograph.

I don't know enough to expertly judge, but this work does look extremely technically impressive to my eyes. But very artistic, whatever that is? Not as much.

I'd be inclined to agree that this is true for all extreme realism in graphic arts. But years ago I went to an exhibit of extreme realist paintings and one artist in particular greatly impressed me. Because I wasn't just looking at something that "could have been a photograph", although that's one of the first things that came to mind. It's that the piece was much more than a photograph rendered as an oil painting. Much more. The realist detail in this painting I have in mind was like a hyper-real visual experience, as if one was on a drug that sharpened vision into something not quite natural. In that sense, the painting definitely had an artistic viewpoint, there was something there far beyond a visual reproduction.

In a few of these Archembault pieces on his web site I can see a glimmer, a hint of something that's more than just realizing a photograph into Bic pen-and-paper. But not that much.

I don't mean to sound like I'm denigrating the artist or his work. I do have a bias towards a kind of holistic expressivism in art, but I have a huge respect for technical talent and ability and don't want to value it less than it deserves. And it deserves a lot of value. More, in many cases, than raw artistic vision.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:33 PM on September 26, 2004

EB: I know what you're saying about hyper-real. I always looked at Richard Estes' work that way. My uncle is also a realist, but I think he goes in the opposite direction a bit, and chooses to leave out, or smooth over some detail, resulting in work that has a little bit of a dream-like quality.
Realism falling out of favor in the art world is something very sad, I think.
posted by bashos_frog at 12:06 AM on September 27, 2004

Would be curious to learn his approach.

Pretty simple brute force. Take a photograph. Project slide on paper / place paper on top of photo on top of strong light source. Get pen. Dot dot dot dot dot dot dot...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:16 AM on September 27, 2004

Alternatively, just put up a website with low res scans of black and white photos and claim you did them with a ballpoint pen.
posted by fvw at 1:26 AM on September 27, 2004

Wow, that's so cynical. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:34 AM on September 27, 2004

Well I think they're awesome.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:36 AM on September 27, 2004

Great find, XQUZYPHYR!
posted by taz at 5:15 AM on September 27, 2004

posted by slhack3r at 5:52 AM on September 27, 2004

i once saw a gerhard richter retrospective at the tate. it started with monochrome impasto abstracts, then changed to brightly coloured asbtracts, and his finally photo-realist and blurred images (i guess i'm over-simplifying the sequence - it was a long time ago). it was amusing to listen to people complain that the austere grey abstracts were "not art" and that the man "couldn't paint", knowing that round the corner was a painting of a candle flame, and another of the artist's daughter, that were, technically, jaw-dropping heart-breakingly good.

richter is a friggin genius and the painting of his daughter is not just technically perfect, but also a tender portrait of a fleeting childhood moment (it's one of my favourite pieces - if anyone knows where i can get a print, i'd love to know). this stuff, on the other hand, looks pretty drab. but the quality is so bad it's difficult to say. unless he's drawing jpeg artefacts too, in which case it's postmodern techno-ironic genius.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:46 AM on September 27, 2004

The picture captioned as being of Tom Waits is not, in fact, of Tom Waits, though it does appear on the cover of Raid Dogs.
posted by kenko at 7:52 AM on September 27, 2004

That fellar can draw, but when he does exact reproductions of other peoples' photographs, well, that's just theft. I think we still see photos as documents first and artworks second, and therefore don't always see this for the creative plundering that it is.

To create a piece of art, an artist needs to make a number of technical choices, which include composition, lighting, pose/placement, among other things. This is the hard part, and this artist got to skip all of these steps by choosing photographs that already had these things done for him. This is why I have very limited respect for this work.
posted by picea at 8:13 AM on September 27, 2004

Sure they are nice drawings, but can he open a bike lock?
posted by terrapin at 8:27 AM on September 27, 2004

I'm not saying this applies to you picea (it probably doesn't), but it amuses me to see modernist turn their noses up at hyperrealists for being mere draftsmen delivering clinical and soulless renderings -- yet these were the self-same people who made Warhol a genius after seeing his reproduction of a Campbell's Soup can.
posted by RavinDave at 8:34 AM on September 27, 2004

Well RavinDave, I don't know that I'd classify myself as a modernist, but I'll take Warhol over this guy any day. He at least had some good ideas. My problem with this guy is that he apparently has very little in the way of ideas. Some proto-interesting crosshatching in the occasional background seems like the only foray into creativity here, and that's pretty timid. It always boils down to a matter of taste, and me, I look for ideas rather than craft. I certainly appreciate good craft as well, but while this guy can reproduce pictures accurately, he's shown no ability here to do anything else, and there's so much more to making decent art.

Again, the main reason I'm being a jerk towards this guy is that I think it's crappy and just lazy to act the parasite to those photographers he's copied directly from. Sure, back in the day, the Renaissance artists would steal whole figures from other painters' works, but at least that figure would be just a piece of something bigger. It was still cheap, but at least the thieves had other things going on in their paintings that came out of their own heads.

Okay, so I'm making a big deal about a totally unpretentious site... It's beginning to remind me of the argument I got into with my friend about the artistic value of fan fiction, and I lost that argument. Blah.
posted by picea at 11:19 AM on September 27, 2004

there's so much more to making decent art

posted by Eamon at 11:29 AM on September 27, 2004

I certainly appreciate good craft as well, but while this guy can reproduce pictures accurately, he's shown no ability here to do anything else, and there's so much more to making decent art.

You could make the same charge against the ancient Greeks too, couldn't you? Surely you'd concede there were capable of "decent art". They didn't care one whit about deeper meaner -- they didn't even have a word for "art" in anything resembling the modern sense. They called it "tekhne" -- which aptly illustrates their priorities once you realize that it passed into our language as: "technique".

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not begrudging anyone their preference. World would be boring if everyone had the same taste. And I myself appreciate art with a subtext -- though I don't consider it the prerequisite most people do. Hard to find deep meaning in a most still lifes, landscapes, trompe le'oeil, portraits, figure studies or any of several categories I could name. Yet each of those categories has managed to yield "decent art".
posted by RavinDave at 12:06 PM on September 27, 2004

Hard to find deep meaning in a most still lifes, landscapes, trompe le'oeil, portraits, figure studies or any of several categories I could name.

Now don't take this as anti-your-taste, ravinDave, because I probably share more of it than not. However a very good friend of mine did a series of landscapes (actually office-scapes. here if you're interested) that I really liked. When I tried to put my finger on why, I realized it was because I was interested in what he chose to include and what he chose to leave out. Subtle, yes but it can tell you a lot about what a piece intends. Certainly, there is a complexity to a piece that interacts with reality in the sense that the world can't mean one thing. So representing the world inevitably leads to more than one meaning.

Anyway, one way to approach it is to read some photography criticism. Just my 2 cents.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:08 PM on September 27, 2004

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