Human Figures Removed from Classic Paintings by Artist José Manuel Ballester

I was really moved when I saw these paintings created by José Manuel Ballester, highlighted in this Colossal article. The article accurately points out that “despite being a couple of years old, José Manuel Ballester’s paintings feel eerily familiar in the time of COVID-19.” Once the human figures are removed, the paintings seem to take on a wholly different feel and message. By keeping little details (uneaten dishes, a faded blood stain), Ballester imbues each work with a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, to the viewer, even without placing it side-by-side with the original painting.

I felt that this connected extremely well with one concept we explored in class through both the instruction manual and storyboarding projects: conveying motion and the passage of time using only still images. The level of technical detail is also amazing; each of Ballester’s paintings exactly match the style of the original; I wouldn’t be surprised if he used a digital algorithm similar to the Spot Healing tool we learned about in class.

Three paintings that particularly resonated with me:

Left: Original, Right: Ballester’s
Top: Original, Bottom: Ballester’s
Left: Original, Right: Ballester’s

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