Hyperrealist artist Pedro Campos at his easel
The paintings of Madrid based hyperrealist Pedro Campos, 44, present a world that shines. His subjects -- aluminum coke cans, apples wrapped in plastic, glass marbles, and the spines of coffee table art books -- have an aura of glossy, sanctified perfection about them. They are hand painted essays about purity in which mundane items shock the senses with their virginal splendor.
There is something a bit "Pop" about many of Campos' images. His jars of jelly beans would appeal to Wayne Thiebaud, and his Coca-Cola cans seem to nod to Andy Warhol. Of course, Warhol famously said that Pop Art is about "liking things" and Campos is about liking, and more. With his considerable painterly skill, augmented by experience in art restoration, Campos is an artist who has meditated deeply on the presence of things, and who in turn endows every object he paints with a hint of the metaphysical.
Pedros Campos' Pallete Table
Campos has the temperament of an Old Master, and he uses traditional painters tools and methods with considerable confidence. From a young age, Campos worked in a variety of creative settings, decorating nightclubs and restaurants, and also working for ad agencies as an illustrator. He also studied art restoration in Madrid, working on furnishings, paintings and sculpture. It wasn't until age 30 that he finally took up oil painting and began to forge his career as a fine artist.
His work as a restorer honed his innate precision. "I think the influence of restoration in developing my own way of painting has been important," says Campos. "The restoration of lost areas in antique paintings forces you to seek excatitude in color: any personal intervention should go unnoticed." Restoration also taught Campos to strive for an "overall reality" and to subdue his brushwork. He is a self-effacing artist whose technical virtuosity leaves no trace of ego.
Although his art relies on photography, Campos tries to go beyond the photographic to create a distinctive aesthetic that is his alone. Interestingly, he admires a wide range of contemporary artists not because of their attachments to any particular styles or ideas, but because of their striking individuality. Campos feels that Lucien Freud, Richard Estes, Francis Bacon, Antonio López, and Anish Kapoor all have this quality of "distinction" in their works
Campo's personal distinction -- his ability to create works of supreme clarity and purity -- links him to realist masters like Jan Van Eyck and Francisco de Zurbaran. Committed to the peculiar magic of representation, abstract painting holds little interest for Campos:
"The work of the great masters throughout history is the best argument we have for realist painters to oppose the growing idea that only abstract painting is art. A simple stroll through the Louvre or the Prado should be enough for anyone to change his mind about that."
Looking over a slideshow of Campos' paintings may well have the same effect.
The works of Pedro Campos are presented courtesy of the artist and Plus One Gallery, London.