This story was featured in the August 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art August 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art August 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
From Michelangelo to Rembrandt to John Singer Sargent, some of the greatest artists throughout history are known for their impeccable figurative works. The figure is one of the most challenging subjects an artist can take on, but it is also one of the most compelling. “There’s something about the human form that we all relate to,” says painter Kevin Beilfuss. In a solo show at RS Hanna Gallery this month, Beilfuss presents at least 12 new works that capture the beauty and complexity of the human form. A reception takes place on Friday, August 2, from 6 to 8 p.m., and the show hangs through August 17.
Beilfuss is known for his colorful paintings of female figures surrounded by abstract and impressionistic elements. Until recently, most of his models have been depicted indoors. Lately, however, the artist has been painting more of his figures in natural environments, especially densely wooded forests. “Most of the landscapes I’ve been doing have been more enclosed, rather than expansive,” he says. One reason the artist likes to place his figures in these “enclosed” landscapes is because they provide a natural context for the painting without the need to define every detail for the viewer.
No matter what the setting, the focal point of Beilfuss’ paintings is almost always the figure, and the figure’s face in particular. “As I get farther away from the face, there is less detail and [the painting] gets more loose and wild,” he says. This is also where he takes more liberties with the composition, adding texture and tossing in bright color notes here and there at various stages of the painting process. He’s found that “as long as the value is right, you can get away with pushing the color to make [the painting] more interesting.” For Beilfuss, the goal is not to reproduce a scene exactly as it is but rather to create a beautiful and captivating piece. “To me, the joy of it all is to bend some of the rules, make it your own, and have fun in the process,” he says. —Lindsay Mitchell
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