Kazuo Torigoe

Kazuo Torigoe, trompe l'oeil still life

Kazuo Torigoe, trompe l'oeil still life

Trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye”) — a style of painting in which the goal is to create an illusion of the presence of three dimensional objects — has a long history in European painting. While it’s tempting to dismiss it as mere amusement, I think it goes to the nature of illusion inherent in representational painting — something the masters explored long before the 20th century modernists made it central to their questioning of the nature of visual art.

Kazuo Torigoe is a contemporary Japanese painter who focuses on trompe l’oeil still life. He works in oil on copper, primarily at a small scale (roughly 4×4″ to 10×10″, or 10×10 cm 25×25 cm).

Most of the pieces currently in his online portfolio give the appearance of a shadowbox behind the frame, in which fruits, flowers or small objects are arranged.

Fascinatingly, he often incorporates trompe l’oeil “inserts” of painted frame, leaving the viewer in question as to the boundary between the physical frame and the painting of a frame. Torigoe will at times play with that uncertainty by extending objects over the edge of the trompe l’oeil frame.

Within this delightful context are his beautifully realized still life objects.


Eye Candy for Today: Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro

Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro

Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro (details)

Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro; oil on canvas, roughy 17 x 21 inches (43 x 53 cm). Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Kimbell Art Museum.

Camille Pissarro is one of my favorites among the original French Impressionist painters.

I love the sense of atmospheric distance in this painting of the countryside near London, where — following Monet’s lead — the artist moved his family to escape the violence of the Prussian siege of Paris in 1870.

The foreground trees are so roughly indicated they appear to act primarily as a framing device. My eye is immediately drawn to the row of houses in the middleground, and then to the church beyond, all of them seemingly rough smudges of color on close inspection, but resolving to a naturalistic scene from sufficient distance.

A closer look also reveals a lone figure in the left middleground. I didn’t realize until reading the museum’s description of the painting that the white plume in the right middleground is the smoke of a passing train.