Figurative Drawings

Figurative drawings are artworks where the real world is clearly visible, unlike in abstract art. Technically, figurative art refers to all works that do not adhere to abstract styles, but today the term has become shorthand for pieces that focus on the human figure.…

Artists’ fascination with the subject of the body can be traced back to early cave paintings. The popular subject of figurative drawing has evolved through time as it’s been incorporated and re-interpreted through various artistic movements. Artwork depicting such subject matter tends to be a reflection of societies perception of the human form at that time; from the angelic nudes of the Renaissance era - seen in Raphael’s red chalk drawing Study for the Three Graces - to the fleshy, grotesque figures envisioned by artists born in the twentieth century - think Lucien Freud’s bulbous portrait of lawyer Arnold Abraham Goodman, Baron Goodman and Jenny Saville’s portraits from low vantage points, where her subjects have exaggerated double chins.

How will the next generation of artists interpret the human figure? The clues lie within Rise Art’s extensive catalogue of figurative drawings by emerging and mid-career artists. We at Rise Art strive to guide collectors through the process of buying or renting art online and our team of expert curators has hand-picked every artwork listed on our site.

A new generation of figurative artists

One of the standout artists of this new generation is Raj Kaur. The artist’s fluid figures are so energetic that, even on paper, they seem to skid across the page. You can almost hear the music that is integral to Kaur’s working process.

Another rising star, the award-winning Anna Sofie Jespersen, envisions the human figure to be less ethereal. Instead, the Danish artist sees the body as an entry point into the complicated psyche. In her large-scale work Talkshow, some characters seem lost in thought and suspicion, while others are only half-formed, missing faces and body parts. Words and sentences float between the figures and the tension is almost palpable. The atmosphere is not in short supply in Jespersen’s work Bill Murray And My Friends. Yet this time it is joyous; a charcoal vision of a drunken sing along with the famously convivial actor.

Mat Cahill’s figurative drawings focus on a very modern kind of human. His figures appear mostly in giant, colourful crowds, reflecting a new age of globalised, inter-connected humanity. Social media self-portrait depicts the intimate images uploaded to platforms like Facebook and Instagram. But seeing them en-masse creates a dystopian map of our information society and the colour-code hints at the way in which social media users have been sorted into invisible categories. Working in felt-tip, Cahill’s works are mesmerizingly vibrant while also intensively thought provoking. The artist - who used to assist Damien Hirst - says he sometimes spends up to 400 hours on his pieces.

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