Figure Vi By Pramod Kurlekar | Oil Painting | 22x15


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What is figurative art?

For ages, one of the goals of artists has been to realistic represent the world on canvases or through sculptures. In ancient times, the art genre that dealt with realistic representation of humans and surrounding environment was called mimesis and nowadays, it is called figurative art. Thus, figurative art is a form of art that has strong association with the real world, especially with the human figure.

Since the arrival of abstract art, the term ‘figurative art’/‘figurative paintings’ has been frequently used to refer to works of artists who have retained aspects and traits of the real world as their subject matter. Retrospectively, the term, figurative art, also refers to all art that was created before abstract art.

Modern figurative art is considered different from modern realism as modern figurative artists use modern idioms, while modern realists employ the styles that predated post-impressionism. Modern figurative art is somewhat similar to the general trend of expressionism that can be tracked through the dawn of the twentieth century and on. Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti are two great exemplars of modern figurative paintings and figurative sculptor respectively. Figuration can be traced through the works of eminent artists like Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, and through pop art, new-expressionism and even new spirit painting.
Figurative art is better known as ‘figurativism’. This form of artwork represents paintings and sculptures which are derived from real-life sources. Artists in India pronounce this art form as a representational painting style which is very different from abstract works.

Figurative art paintings illustrate modern art with deep seated roots and strong references to the real world. As a matter of fact, this type of artistry is heavily dependent on line, shape and color. Light and dark otherwise called illumination, also plays a critical role in every canvas featuring ‘figurativism’. Besides the above mass, volume, texture as well as the artist’s perspective also plays a critical role on the work. Every single one of these elements plays an important role in figurative imagery.

Painters in India and abroad who excel in figurative form of imagery are quite different from the connoisseurs of abstract and non-objective two-dimensional artworks. While ‘abstractism’ is non-representational to a certain extent, figurative art deploys natural elements. Together, such attributes create an impression and sometimes an illusion of space and form. It usually emphasizes upon the portrayed narrative.

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