Erin Cone’s Paintings Blur Realism With Abstract
Erin Cone’s paintings could have been pulled straight out of a high-end fashion magazine. Her work brings together realistic portraits of women and abstract elements to create an overall minimalist ambiance.
“I emphasize visual impact over narrative context,” Cone says, going on to add that she likes to focus on the “subtle orchestration” of her differing subjects within a design-based style. The result is a series of stylistic paintings that, on a surface level, look like a collection of simple portraits but, dig deeper, and they hold hidden meanings.
“I create a deliberate push-and-pull between near-photorealistic detail and my own vocabulary of visual glitches that challenge that very realism,” she says.
Erin Cone, a New-Mexico based artist, uses a variety of methods and techniques to create her finished pieces. She starts by sketching poses, distinct gestures, and details which are then fused together to provide inspiration for photographs of herself, but sometimes of models.
Then it is time to experiment. Though Cone uses certain inspiration for her subjects, the end result comes about in a spontaneous way – almost intuitively. “It’s more about the visual effect than the story content,” she says. “That’s why I concentrate on the subtle placement of the subjects within the frame.”
It takes some experimentation for Erin Cone to settle on the specific elements she’s happy with in a piece. “I intentionally create a tension between near photographic detail and my own vocabulary of visual disturbance,” she says.
This tension means her subjects and the portrait figures she includes are at once very real and very abstract. In turn, this exposes a sense of emotion, where the viewers can relate to the piece without really knowing the backstory of the figure – it’s an anonymous encounter of kinds.
Once Cone has experimented with the composition and settled on a layout that depicts both the aesthetic charm she’s aiming for and the realistic interpretation, she uses a selection of traditional methods to complete the works. She sketches over the canvas, creating new lines and layers as she goes, and she plays around with colour to determine certain visual nuances.
Though Erin Cone’s pieces seem simple on a surface level, they encourage the viewer to ponder the idea of transition and transformation. “Each painting reveals a liminal moment for the figure: bound yet on the cusp of release; passing from obscurity to clarity; the exact moment when everything shifts,” she says.
Merging together blocked colour panes and abstract elements with realistic female figures highlights the idea of integrating these anonymous women into their surroundings. Yes, they are representational, because the depict what may or may not be real people, but they are also decorative in the colours used, the stylistic treatments applied, and the thoughtful way Cone composes each piece.
And, despite each piece promising a different narrative, a different woman, and a different set of design elements, together the pieces showcase a tightknit body of work that blends seamlessly together in their neutral tones, hints of black and white blocks, and the serene ambiance imbued in the figures and their stylistic surroundings.
Enjoy the track “AoE Cutz ” by No Moon while viewing the additional works below:
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