Photorealist artist Doug Bloodworth was inspired by the beyond-lifelike sculptures of Duane Hanson—most notably, a “security guard” on display at New York’s Van de Weghe Gallery. “Thousands of people, myself included, went up to him and asked him where the restrooms were. It was truly uncanny,” says Bloodworth.
Similarly, he enjoys overhearing visitors to his shows—in galleries from Zurich to Key West to South Beach to, yes, Disney World—saying that they “love the photos.” When corrected, told that these are oil paintings, he says, “Their look of incredulity is such a pleasure to watch. Many people stare at the paintings for a very long time.”
One reason they are enthralled is that Bloodworth delights in depicting such beloved and familiar touchstones of Americana as Keebler fudge stripe cookies, M&Ms candies, Coke bottles, Monopoly games, Batman comics, and The New York Times crossword—in mid-attempt—all blown up to giant 4-foot-by-5-foot size.
The hyper-real depictions of the pop culture flotsam and jetsam of our lives is a major part of the artist’s appeal, according to David Muller, president and curator of Photorealism, a Boca Raton–based dealer in solely photorealistic art.
“It’s a combination of, number one, the actual technical skill involved in the works,” Muller says. “I’ve been in his studio and sat there for three hours watching him complete three square inches of a candy wrapper. Watching it appear from a white canvas is totally amazing. Then you have the addition of nostalgia. When one sees the actual works, it takes you back to another time.”