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Abstract Realism

Artist Statement Leon Sarantos

I use color as a driving force to create art that is recognizable to the viewer, yet abstracted from a literal representation. This interplay of abstraction and realism in my art is akin to abstract realism. In this approach, I find inspiration in the art of Milton Avery and Gus Heinze.
In carving out the elements of the painting, I use strong dark lines to give the art movement and delineate the objects portrayed. For added visual variety and movement, I graduate the values from very light to dark moving across the canvas. These contrasting color values offer borders and outlines to explore, similar to catching a look at an image in shade or direct sunlight, adjacent but distinct. Often, I layer one color over another, letting each layer peek through and add its contribution. Small, quick dashes of high-key colors dance across the painting for subtle stimulation and movement. I often paint using realistic techniques: lighting, perspective, and modeling. My manner of paint application, though, creates a contemporary feel to the finished work by using flattened objects, textures, partial overlays of color, and strong, carved out shapes.
For example, my painting, Preacher Man, continues my push to use high contrasts of light and dark to present a quickly readable abstract pattern, which in turn contains realistic details and modeling in the shaded and highlighted areas. I combine realism with elements of abstract patterns, as in the repeated circles in Preacher Man’s hat and beard, with a dominant black line bisecting light from dark.
My art presents the interplay between abstraction and realism across genres including figurative art, cityscapes of Chicago scenes, and landscapes, as well as still life paintings. My recent digital art series also explores the interplay of representational photography with digital transformations that present a more abstract view.

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