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Learn about the artwork of hyper-realist painter Karel Funk.
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Biance: Karel Funk paintings are known for hyper realism technique and immediately command your attention. His paintings suggest multiple references to art history, in particular to certain renaissance portraits that remain firmly rooted in the present. Hi and welcome to watchmojo.com, I am Bianca and today I had the opportunity to speak with artist Karel Funk. How long have you been painting? Karel: I started painting when I was 20, which should be 15 years ago, and from that point on I become very serious about figurative painting and I’ve been doing it full time. Biance: Can you tell us a bit about your process when painting. Karel: I start by taking photographs of model, and sometimes I’ll take three or four poses of the model, and I work from several photographs at once. And by then, draw the image on to the canvass, sometimes I project it on and trace up the image on to the panel and then I start building up the information through a series of very thin glazes, almost like a watercolor consistency. Then sometimes I take a small brush and put in varied details and small marks, and I’ll keep building glazes over top of that. Sometimes I painted in somebody’s ear three times before I feel like I’ve, I’ve actually got it right, so it’s part of the language, so it’s a consistent language through the painting. And when that happens, then the painting can be two months, maybe a little over. It depends. Bianca: You use mostly male subjects, is there a reason for that? Karel: When I started this series, I was very concerned about the narrative of the paintings, if I introduced a woman into the demographics I was painting, I was worried that there would be a dialogue with the male gaze, the whole history of the male gaze. That might take away from the narrative of the paintings, which is more about the viewer being able to get very close to the subject, and examining their surfaces, but having no relationship with them, and there’s no contact, there’s no emotional connections, just a, they’re being like an objective voyeur looking at the, the subjects. Bianca: Now this particular exhibition is very filled with, I would say, I guess border jackets, when have always been very interested in that, in that texture and painting others in recent development. Karel: This, this rain jackets are the kind of skate club, Patagonia jackets, or snowboarding jackets, their very average, everybody has them. And they’re more about function and not fashion. It is really a way of keeping the subject neutral. When I moved to New York, the density of the people, I just found it overwhelming how you go on a street corner, if you’re on a busy subway car you could be standing, you know, chest to back with somebody, or shoulder to shoulder, and you’re force to look at the back of their head and you can see them very intimately. You can see all the information and their hair, their clothing, their flesh. So I want the subjects to be face away from the viewer, have their eyes close. Almost like internalizing them, in themselves, and they’re not aware of the viewers presence. Some people say they almost like that, that moment, where like, what if they turned around and caught me being a voyeur, or caught me looking at them.