Sally Fuerst’s work is playful and unexpected – classically trained in drawing and painting in New York, Florence and London this young American artist is turning paint and portraiture on its head. Often each subject is accompanied by an inflatable animal or toy that is painted with such meticulous detail and competent handling of paint that it is easy to mistake the paintings as photographs from afar, such is the skill of Fuerst’s hand.
The women in Fuerst’s pantheon become symbols of femininity and explore the female perspective, referencing classical portraiture but with a 21st century twist. The artist cites Annie Leibovitz and Tim Walker as influences, along with painters John Currin and John Singer Sargent, and this ability to capture character and create a scene of fantasy and imagination is echoed in Fuerst’s work. Each model is posed with the style and attitude of a fashion shoot, seeming to occupy a photographic studio background. The artist deliberately chooses traditional frames to present the work in the vein on an old masterly painting. This combination of the technique of art historical painting and the composition and style of fashion photography posits Fuerst as a major talent in what has been a male dominated genre.
Each painting appears photo-realist but upon closer inspection the masterly handling of oil paint is visible – built up in a myriad of colours and brushstrokes. This is an artist relishing in the painting process and creating images that have the impact of classical gravity juxtaposed with a Pop, kitsch sensibility.
Fuerst currently lives and works in Malta.