A key artist who I feel occupies a similar territory is Francois Bard.
A French painter (b.1959) who lives in Paris. Bard identifies photographs from the media, reflecting postures, and has them replayed by those close to him, or by himself, photographs them, and in turn paints them in a traditional way.
Bard creates moody, staged, atmospheric portraits, depicting contemporary elements, shown in figure 1. Bard’s modernity is to be found by being a part of the accepted tradition, to which cinema, photography, the society of the spectacle come together by injecting universal themes, in our contemporary world. Bards realism is detached and theoretical, solicited only by the desire to better activate memory. Bard refers directly to the world, but his images remain ellusive.
Figure 1. Francois Bard, Retiens mon nom, 2017.
Igor Melnikov, a Russian painter ( b.1956), shown in figure 2. His work evokes nostalgia in a timeless metaphysical way. Melnikov places himself in an ambiguous territory somewhere between traditional and conceptual, paying homage to both the technical mastery of Old Masters and the psychological subjectivity of a modern artist. Igor Melnikov views his own work as conceptual art, presenting the pure human vessel in the form of the expressionless, innocent child, allowing the viewer to fill that vessel with meaning.
Figure 2. Igor Melnikov, Pathway Sign, 2013.
“For me, these are not portraits of children, but portraits of human souls,” says Moscow-born artist Igor Melnikov. Each is a picture “of a soul immersed in itself, reticent, perplexed, searching for and preserving a hope. If you take the message of this portrait to your heart, it is a portrait of you.”
Albeit these painters work in a highly traditional way, they all add texture and atmosphere through their painterly technique. One could argue that Rembrandt did this as well way back in the seventeenth century.
I understand the success of these contemporary portrait painters are a testament to the enduring medium of painting.
Michael Zavros, an Australian artist, (b.1974) shown in figure 3, is an exploration into the alluring appeal of the polished aesthetic. This hyper-real painting style that Zavros employs in my opinion loses the “uncatchable” through his exacting technique of painting. In their realism I feel they assume the role of an advertising spread in a fashion magazine. With a masked presence of the artists hand, the sheer beauty of composition, realistic texture, and luminous colour and light, the paintings are so realistic I have to keep reminding myself that I am looking at a painted canvas and not a photograph.
Phoebe is eight/Tom Ford
2013, Oil on board, 25cm x 15.6cm
Zavros himself challenges this idea of traditionally perceived binary between photography and the act of drawing through his works sheer attention to detail and realism. He plays with the idea that his works are not simply a mechanical reproduction of an original but rather the outcome of an exercise of copying that results in him playing with the concept of artistic ingenuity and originality, proclaiming these qualities for himself in the process.
Self- obsession and materialism in a consumer driven world are prevalent themes in his works, referencing advertising through his artistic style.
 Stephanie Pioda, “Is François Bard a Modern Artist?” Galerie Olivier Waltman, August 12, 2021, https://galeriewaltman.com/en/French-texts-bard
 Tonya Turner Carroll, “Igor Melnikov - News - Turner Carroll Gallery - Santa Fe, NM,” Turner Carroll Gallery, July 21, 2017, https://www.turnercarrollgallery.com/artist-profiles/igor-melnikov/igor-melnikov-news/.
Carroll, Tonya Turner. “Igor Melnikov - News - Turner Carroll Gallery - Santa Fe, NM.” Turner Carroll Gallery, July 21, 2017. https://www.turnercarrollgallery.com/artist-profiles/igor-melnikov/igor-melnikov-news/.
Pioda, Stephanie. “Is François Bard a Modern Artist?” Galerie Olivier Waltman, August 12, 2021. https://galeriewaltman.com/en/French-texts-bard
1. Francois Bard, Retiens mon nom, 2017, Huile sur toile,195 x 150 cm,
https://galeriewaltman.com/en/francois-bard, 27-09-21, Paris.
2. Igor Melnikov, Pathway Sign, 2013, acrylic on panel, 81.3 x 91.4cm, https://www.artsy.net/artwork/igor-melnikov-pathway-sign, 25-09-2021, Santa Fe.
3. Michael Zavros, Phoebe is eight/Tom Ford, 2013, oil on board, 25cm x 15.6cm,
https://eyecontactmagazine.com/2014/06/the-allure-of-the-aesthetic, 24-10-2021, Auckland.