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What is the World of Figurative Painting Looking Like in 2022?

Figurative painting has witnessed a resurgence in recent years, and 2022 sees the full consolidation of this historical way of expressing reality through art.


Across these new trends in art, there is a persistent flair for the unexpected, be it a punch of neon, a surreal floral head, a whimsical animal portrait, or a wandering astronaut. In 2022, artists and collectors alike are looking for ways to enliven their spaces and create a window into the extraordinary, however big or small. And, as a result, extraordinary figurative painting is coming back with a massive focus on the body, the human figure and living forms.

The long periods spent confined at home and in isolation over the past two years, have certainly influenced this new trend. People now have an intense desire to see other people, to feel emotionally connected to them. Hence the new interest in portraits and figures in art.

Figurative painting has witnessed a resurgence in recent years, and 2022 sees the full consolidation of this historical way of expressing reality through art.


Watch now the video that talks about the celebration of the Brazilian Modern Art Week, which was held at the Municipal Theatre of São Paulo in February 1922. Follow this seminar given by Kalinca Costa Söderlund, the Founder of Arriere-Garde, and Anaïs-Karenin, one of Arriere-Garde's associated artists, on our Youtube channel.


2022 brings some major exhibitions of well-established names in figurative painting to institutions around the world. Alex Katz, known for his distinctive style of portraiture, has two upcoming retrospectives: one is set to open at the Guggenheim in New York this year, and the other, the artist’s first-ever retrospective in Spain, will open at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid in June.

Turner Prize winning artist and cultural activist Lubaina Himid CBE RA, who is internationally recognized for her figurative paintings, is also currently featured in a large-scale exhibition at Tate Modern. The first comprehensive exhibition in Germany dedicated to the work of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is now on at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, featuring the artist’s depictions of Black men and women in oil, charcoal and pastel pencil. And Jenny Saville’s paintings and life drawings are currently being exhibited in institutions across Florence. Just to name a few.

Young and emerging artists are also exploring the body in painting to delve into subjects like identity, cultural history, personal narratives and more. Some such works can be seen at Lawrie Shabibi gallery in Dubai, which is currently presenting a group exhibition of contemporary women artists using figuration as a central motif – through painting as well as other media.


Our Brazilian artist, Luiz Pasqualini, has a long career dedicated to figurative painting, and uses classic rendering techniques inspired by European Masters of the 18th and 19th Centuries to depict contemporary aspects of the lifestyle, mentality, and culture in contemporary Brazil – often leading to a political critique of consumerism in a country of the developing world.


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