Paintings and Photographs – What Should Be The Relationship?

Today there was a Huffpost tweet about “a mind blowing art revelation”. This related to work about a Korean realist painter called Kang Kang Hoon, whose paintings look just like photographs. My immediate reaction was simply ‘why?’ What was the artist adding that a photograph didn’t already have? The discussion underneath the article seemed to be divided between those with similar ideas to me and those who thought the talent of the artist of such detailed work was the important thing.


On my recent holiday, we flew over Bulgaria and Turkey. I took a load of ‘abstract’ photographs of the landscape below. I intend using them as the basis of a series of paintings. I stress ‘the basis’. I have no intention of reproducing the photographs!


There was recently a discussion on the blog of a fellow OCA Drawing student who had used photographs for some drawings. I felt that there was a bit of  ‘cheating’ in this in that the photograph had already flattened the 3D subject into a 2D plane and added a definite edge, problems that the artist has to work out with reality.

Finally a couple of other tweets about photographs. Firstly a housing project in Mexico City. This was the opposite of the first item in that it was a said to be a photograph but looked like a painting. I loved one comment on the tweet suggesting it was the work of ‘an architect with ocd’.


There was also a Hyperallergic  article about ‘photographic firsts’. I particularly liked this photograph. Photography pioneer Louis Daguerre took the image of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris in 1838, and unintentionally recorded the first person in a photograph. As Retronaut describes, the figure down at the bottom left getting his shoes shined was the only person on the street during the long exposure to pause long enough to appear.

view of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris by Louis Daguerre from 1838, believed to be the first photograph of a person (via Wikimedia)


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I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
This entry was posted in Art, Artists, Landscapes, Painting, Photograph, Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Paintings and Photographs – What Should Be The Relationship?

  1. Nancy Farmer says:

    I think Kang Kang Hoon’s paintings are interesting, and he has brought something more to the canvas that the quite obvious extreme skill that he has with the surrealist touch, but yes, a voice in my head still looks at them and goes ‘why would you bother?’. They are also disturbing as hell… though that might not be a bad thing, and is in fact largely down to the not-quite-real aspect of them. They are not half as disturbing as the Mexican housing estate, mind…

  2. Nancy Farmer says:

    …one other thing I thought of – I wonder if Kang Kang Hoon’s paintings are partly copied from photographs? You see, I suspect that they might be in order to capture the accuracy of those fleeting expressions, that trickle of water in one of the other paintings and so on. That seems even more convoluted.,..

  3. Red Hen says:

    Have to say, I`m amazed by a talent that can make me wonder if it`s a photograph or a painting. I first saw Robert Ballagh do this with his portrait of a man in a suit. It was so real, my hand was itching to take the pen out of the breast pocket of the subject`s jacket.
    I didn`t know the first photograph was taking that long ago. Though I`d heard of Daguerrotype so I presume he invented that procedure, whatever it is.(And I`m sure you know!)

  4. ohbenjy says:

    the comments section really speaks volumes

  5. seascapesaus says:

    I have taken aeroplane window shots too. They feel like paintings at the time but never quite make it past that stage. Australian outback landscape from a plane can look like indigenous art – almost as if those artists visualised how it would look from the sky.

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