Pigment to Pixel

From the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux, to the steel-clad metro cars of New York’s subway system, our need to express our thoughts and feelings on a surface, via some form of visual media has engaged us with a continually-morphing process of mark-making. And as these visual arts evolve, we push the central creative paradigm further - introducing new and challenging methods with which to fashion our pictures.

Looking back to a time when the likes of Henri Matisse, Andre Derain and Raoul Dufy were branded “fauves’ (wild beasts) for their new and unrealistic depiction of the everyday, it becomes apparent that the continually shifting landscape of artistic expressionism maintains the ability to provoke and offend the accepted status quo. New is eccentric, aberrant and naughty.

When British Pop artist David Hockney first introduced the then ‘new medium’ of iPhone (latterly iPad) drawings in 2008, there was much resistance to what was ostensibly an electronic facsimile of an office. But Hockney had been there before - opening the way for technology and fine art to fuse via fax machines, colour copiers and polaroid cameras. His artworks fashioned on the Brushes app were seen by some as “dead and bland and gutless”.

However Roberta Smith suggested in the New York Times that Hockney was “deftly juggling digital and analog modes of representation and energetically pursuing newness on several fronts”. As the artist said himself “Picasso would have gone mad with this. So would Van Gogh. I don’t know an artist who wouldn’t.”

With the introduction of Apple’s iPad Pro in 2015, a whole new opportunity for visual expression and creativity began. The canvas had grown; the subtlety of application gained new levels of sensitivity; the interconnection of eye-to-hand became liberated from the previously distracting practice of choosing tools; painting is immediate; sharing similarly instant.

This transition from pigment to pixels is a natural one. From Cave to CPU, shining light on our journey brings new and engaging visuals with which to expand our world.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2024.