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Alison Van Pelt

Van Pelt was born and raised in California and grew up in Los Angeles, where she attended the University of California at Los Angeles. She came of age in the 1970s and her distinctive photorealistic painting style is evocative of that era, when photography was assimilated into the art world. Painters -- Richard Estes, Denis Peterson, Audrey Flack and Chuck Close among them -- would create paintings that appeared to be photographs. Van Pelt begins by referencing a photograph or other existing image from which she draws and paints a realistic portrait entirely by hand. Next comes the work of obscuring the carefully rendered image. From a distance the image appears soft, as though photographed through a mist. But as the viewer approaches the work, vertical lines can be seen, and on closer inspection a sort of horizontal weave emerges. One writer described the effect this creates on Van Pelt's The Expulsion of Adam and Eve as, 'so thick with paint and lines that it actually appears to have been applied to wood, not canvas'.

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