Reality Check - Contemporary American Trompe L'Oeil
Exhibition Catalogue

Gregory West
Magic Beans, 2009
Oil on panel, 6 x 6 inches
Collection of John and Tammy Balitis

Gregory West demonstrates a dazzling ability to capture surface detail and texture in paintings that evoke nostalgic memories of childhood.

The artist's remarks:

"Making art is a curious thing. Most artists have a 'mind's eye.' That is, they see an image in their head. For some, it's only nebulous in form, but for others, it's crystal clear. I think it's our mind's eye that gets us started on each new piece. It gets us excited. But the first mark we make on the canvas changes everything. The painting at that moment has taken on a life of its' own. We struggle to maintain the vision we had. We do everything we can to coax it out of the canvas. All our knowledge, technical skills and talents are brought to bear to create that original vision. In the end, the painting still wins. It has its own personality and, as an artist, I'm sometimes reduced to being a mere participant.

"Still, painting is so much fun ... but maddening at the same time. Realism can be an evasive tactic, and trompe l'oeil painting is like quicksand. The minutia of detail can trap you. Because tactile qualities can be very seductive, meaningful relationships or interactions between the parts of a painting can be lost and it becomes all about execution. Trompe l'oeil is more of a delicate dance. It is a slow and tedious process. When painted well, the rewards are very gratifying from a technical point of view. But if visual puns overshadow the narrative or fail to evoke something more than the illustrated, the painting becomes merely decorative. As a painter, one hopes the aesthetic values of the painting triumph."

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