Who is SJ Fuerst?
A quick glance at the work of SJ Fuerst and you’d be forgiven for misreading her images as photographs. But given the opportunity to take a closer look, or even better, to see them in real-life, it will soon become clear that what you’re looking at are beautiful and hyper-realistic paintings. A casual glance might also trick you into thinking that they’re light-hearted images of attractive women with inflatable props, and while Fuerst plays on the idea of fun and absurdity, if you spend time with these paintings and look under the surface, what you’ll find is a deeper, darker, and altogether murkier world.
From White Picket Fences, to Flamingos, Piggies and Wonder Woman..
Born and raised in idyllic, suburban Connecticut, American painter SJ Fuerst makes hyper realistic paintings drawing her inspiration from fashion, pop art, and contemporary culture. Her paintings create a surreal world where the animals are inflatable and the women feel so real you expect them to wink at you. SJ’s work, though playful, definitely has a dark and naughty streak, however this undercurrent is carefully entwined with a youthful playfulness and a fashion chicness. Her exquisitely painted realism is a style that’s quickly gaining traction in the art world.
A student of painting at the Florence Academy of Art, and the London Atelier of Representational Art, SJ Fuerst’s work defies the often skillful yet dry painting style produced by these very formal institutions. Her work is subject led and it’s the story rather than the skill leading the work. The relationship between character, model and inflatable is where the humour and wry witty undercurrent are intertwined so deftly.
Why not turn your paintings into music videos?
The art world is seeing a resurgence of classical realism among a new generation of artists who are eager to learn the skills shunned by conceptual art over the past few decades, and SJ Fuerst could be at the tip of that spear. The technique may be traditional, but Fuerst’s style is fresh and contemporary, her work is there to entertain. Many of Fuerst’s paintings also exist as music videos, produced by her own hand, as a kind of reimagining, or perhaps the inspiration for many of the scenes she has set up in front of her. This crossover of pop cultural motifs, the stylised reworking of imagery recontextualises her paintings, and gives the viewer an even deeper glimpse into the artist’s process.
Real fakery, or fake reality
In SJ Fuerst’s world, there is a line drawn in invisible ink between reality and fakery.. we just have to find it. Contradiction is the name of the game. Set against backgrounds of real life scenery, Fuerst’s paintings reference the real world, but these ‘natural’ backgrounds are actually backdrops. 9 metre wide swaithes of material onto which the artist prints photographs of nature, purchased from Shutterstock. These ‘real’ scenes hang behind the models like a stage set, adding one more layer into the already compelling narrative playing out.. real women with fake inflatable animals that are created to look ‘life-like’, real landscapes turned into fake landscapes and painted realistically. The fun…. is in finding the line..
With inspiration stemming from penguins and piñatas to piggies and Picasso, from Gigi Hadid and Han Solo to Homer’s Odyssey and Hockney, the world of SJ Fuerst is a fun, alternative take on our reality. With skill and craft in abundance, you’re guaranteed to come away from SJ’s work impressed, but with an unsettling awareness and more questions than answers, and that’s how she likes it.
We are proud to be hosting an exclusive collection of SJ's beautiful, funny and uncannily hyper-real paintings, in our latest exhibition 'Not a Life Saving Device' which you can discover here.