The Hyper Realistic Masterpieces of Joel Rea

“On average, a large painting of mine can take around 700 hours work. I need to always have a conclusion that not only motivates me to finish the piece, but also excites me to reveal it”.

32-year-old Australian artist Joel Rea is taking the international art world by storm. His hyper realistic paintings depicting apocalyptic seascapes and our relationship with nature have swept up countless awards and critical praise in recent years, and it is not hard to understand why. We caught up with Joel for an insight into his awe-inspiring artwork.

When did you recognize your talent as an artist?

From a very young age I was always drawing. Even if I was eating or watching television, I had a pencil in my hand.

Walk us through your creative journey from the beginning to where you are now.

I’ve haven’t really deviated from the path I’ve been on from my earlier years as a student artist. I always wanted to create highly technical and finished looking paintings with an interesting narrative. This pursuit has stayed consistent in my last ten years, with my work getting tighter and more refined in that time.

Joel in Studio 5-photo-by-Chris-Hyde

What are some of the common themes and issues you communicate through your art?

There are reoccurring themes of duality, sourced from both my own mental consciousness and also duality of the natural world.

JR_300714_3, 30/07/14, 2:25 PM, 8C, 7614x11403 (672+574), 150%, Repro 2.2 v2, 1/8 s, R116.2, G99.0, B94.7I’m very seduced by the savage beauty of the natural world so I use it a lot in my work. Most of my imagery is sourced from my photographic expeditions.

Do you have a mentor or idol artistically? Someone who inspires you significantly?

Salvador Dali will always be my hero. Closer to home though: any artist that commits to their craft and survives solely by being an artist inspires me.

It’s a tough gig and it’s quite a lonely road, so it’s encouraging to be reinforced that it’s possible to live the dream in a healthy way and not just have your art gain money and attention once your dead.

Return To Genisis WEB 120x90cm oil on canvas

You grew up in Queensland, Australia. How is creativity celebrated or embraced in your culture compared to other places that you have observed?

I’m from the Gold Coast. It’s a little town in terms of culture and the scene is very small compared to places like London, New York, or even Sydney. It was a disadvantage emerging as an artist in a town with so little opportunities, however my saving grace is the internet. It has made my work travel a lot further than I could have taken it myself over the last few years.

Solo WEB 122x92cm oil on canvas

Do you have a favorite piece, or one that is closest to your heart?

‘See Me’ a recent self portrait, is a painting I felt pretty vulnerable presenting to the public but thankfully the response was very positive.

See Me WEB 77x61cm oil on canvas It’s a very honest representation of how I feel most of the time as an artist. It was a cathartic feeling making that piece – I had to get some things off my chest at the time.

What has been your most significant achievement or proudest moment as an artist?

I’m most proud to have not turned my back on my dream and kept working hard to fulfil my goal. Not having to take a second job since graduating from art college has been my greatest achievement.

Joel in Studio WEB Painting Wave

What has been your greatest challenge (whether related to art or not) and how has it affected your practice?

My greatest challenge has been dealing with the loneliness and isolation that a painting practice can inflict. On the Gold Coast, art studios and art ‘hubs’  are pretty much non existent. I’ve only had the option to work from my home.

THE-PRECISION-OF-LUCKThe upside of being alone with your thoughts all day is that my work contains a lot of introspective material. The public have been connecting to this in a positive and meaningful way.

What is your next goal?

Besides exhibiting my work in new markets in 2016, I simply aim to focus on making paintings that excite me. I feel that has been key to keeping the repetitiveness of making these paintings fresh. On average a large painting of mine can take around 700 hours work and the labour can be quite monotonous. I need to always have a conclusion that not only motivates me to finish the piece but also excites me to reveal it.

Clash WEB 100x82cm oil on canvas


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