Sunday, 12 September 2010


“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.” - Pablo Picasso

Trompe l’ oeil is a French term that literally means ‘deceives the eye.’ It describes visual illusion in art, especially as used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object. Usually it applies to hyper-realistic art that is contrived in such a way that through the use of context and perspective it creates a powerful optical illusion that what is depicted ‘jumps out’ at the viewer in verisimilitude of life.

Anamorphosis is a technique where a distorted projection or drawing appears normal when viewed from a particular point or with a suitable mirror or lens. The angle that one views an anamorphic drawing or painting may be crucial to viewing the image correctly, or alternative, one may not view it at all except through special equipment, such as curved mirrors, lens arrangements or special projection equipment.

For Art Sunday today, an exponent of both trompe l’oeil and anamorphosis, Julian Beever, who is an English artist famous for his art on the pavements of England, France, Germany, USA, Australia, Belgium and many more countries. Beever gives his drawings an anamorphic view, with his images drawn in a way that gives them three-dimensionality when viewing from the correct angle. Since the mid 1990s, this artist has created pavement drawings for over ten years, using chalks and pastels to create impermanent masterpieces that are soon washed away by the rain and erased by the shuffling feet of people on the pavements that he uses as his canvas. The pavement drawings have included both renderings of old masters plus a wealth of original inventive pieces of work.

Besides this pavement art, Beever also paints murals in acrylics, replicates the works of masters, paints in oils and creates collages. Some of his other works are drawings, typically with a musical, whose size may measure up to 7 metres long by 7 metres high.

Beevers’ art has mass appeal and is easily appreciated by a delighted crowd. He is often sponsored by advertisers, who pay for his efforts, this ensuring his art stays accessible and acknowledged by his public. He says: “My art is for anybody, it’s for people who wouldn’t go into an art gallery. It’s art for the people. Art shouldn’t be locked away in galleries and libraries and books. Art should be for everybody and not just art boffins, historians and so-called experts.”

And yet, there are some who consider his art as “just graffiti” and a defacement of public thoroughfares. Once in Birmingham his drawing was swilled away from the pavement due to a mix up with permissions from the local council. Beever takes it all in his stride and even if he has worked for a few days on one of his pieces, he doesn’t blink an eyelid as it gets washed away, as long as he has taken a photograph of it. “The important thing for me is to get a photo of it at the end. For me, I’m working towards building a photograph as my end result, and if I get that I’m happy.”

I like this artist. He has fun and he gives the viewers of his art great delight and pleasure. He demystifies art and brings it to the masses. He inspires and engages people who may otherwise have never gone into a gallery or a studio and he interacts with people in a positive and accessible way. Art is a firing up of the imagination, an invitation to journey to unknown lands, an adventure and a thrill. Beever’s escapades engage and stimulate the public. Here is a time-lapse video of the artist creating one of his pieces.


  1. In the golden age of classical art Tintoretto did ceilings that turned them into openings into space. But people had to look up to see them.

    I love this artist because his works are at the "street level." I just find myself worrying about them being trod upon.

    I did an Art Sunday today about artists in my neighborhood - like my street level.

  2. OHHHHH! I looooooooove this!!!! I also like the attitude for the artist who takes his art right there on the pavement for everyone to admire. Too many artists are so full of BS that it turns everyone off!!!!
    Well done Mr Beevers!!!!!!

  3. I often see pavement artists at work but never to the extent of detail and trompe l'oeil that Julian engages in. I have had a look at some of his work and the video and it is simply amazing.
    I think the ephemeral nature of his art makes it all the more precious, as is his generous nature...

  4. Wow! These are amazing!