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Review: Carole A. Feuerman's Solo Exhibition Celebrates Hyperrealism

Hyperrealism is in full swing at the intimate Octavia Art Gallery, as Carole A. Feuerman displays a major new work, Christina, created for this exhibition, along with a number of works from the past few years. Hyperrealism art is intended to simulate reality so precisely that the art can easily be mistaken for the real thing.

Christina is a life-size sculpture, composed of painted resin, a statue of an attractive, fit woman in a white bathing suit with orange and yellow designs on it, and a helmet-style bathing cap. She is turning her face to the sun, and the gallery's lighting adroitly simulates that sun. Though in a discreet one-piece bathing suit, Christina is dressed to please, with silver strap-on open shoes with high heels, though not spiked.

She is aware of her beauty, poised and confident, perhaps prepared for the pose as her armpits have been groomed. On her back there is a detailed zipper for the bathing suit, with a few hairs escaping from the bathing cap. So vivid is the impersonation that a viewer might imagine he had seen her at a pool. 

Miniature Balance is not life-size, though so real is the illusion that the brain automatically enlarges it. It shows a full-breasted woman in the yoga lotus position, clad in a pale-blue, two-piece bikini, with a white helmet bathing cap. Her eyes are closed, fingers arched gracefully, and there is a realistic wrinkle in the rear of the bathing suit.

Butterfly Capri seems life-size, though it portrays just the torso and head, and rests on a pedestal. While I admired the others, I liked Butterfly Capri even more, as there is a hint of humor in it - her right hand is lifting the bottom edge of her bathing suit, perhaps because it was binding, or perhaps as an enticement. She is wearing a reflective bathing cap, and a very attractive one-piece bathing suit, orange, with giant butterflies on it. Her eyes are closed, but the work still seems filled with energy, her lips perhaps slightly pursed. Her left hand is resting lightly on her shoulder, a few hairs escape from the bathing cap, and, oh yes, the eye lashes are realistic.

And I loved Miniature Serena, a woman clinging gently to an inflated rubber inner tube, her eyes closed, wearing a glistening bathing cap. She has graceful hands, well-cared for nails, and seems perfectly at rest, savoring a quiet peaceful moment in a vacation that is going well. Feuerman has photographed this as well, and the exhibition shows four images, hung side-by-side, each identical except for the colors, which vary in each. While these may suggest homage to Andy Warhol, the images are pretty, but, I'm afraid, no more than that.

Miniature Quan is a small table-top sculpture of a woman in a blue one-piece bathing suit with a white bathing cap, balancing herself gracefully on a large pale green beach ball. It seems a static moment of rest, the pose perhaps made easier to hold as her weight has flattened the beach ball a bit, making it less likely to move.

There are two glistening black sculptures, one female, one male. Miniature Tree, the female, is 43 inches tall, painted resin, with a 24-karat gold leaf bathing helmet. Miniature Diver, the male, is 24 inches tall, and shows a diver standing on his hands, in position for a dive; he too has a gold leaf bathing cap. The figures are graceful, even elegant, but, at least to me, they were diminished by the distracting flamboyant gold leaf.

The exhibition includes one piece from 1981, Those Lavender Boots, and it was interesting to see this much earlier work. The pale-lavender boots are wrinkled from wear, and there are detailed colorful decorative stampings. The simplicity here is in contrast to the powerful impersonations Feuerman is now providing.

Carole A. Feuerman Solo Exhibition continues through December 5, at the Octavia Art Gallery Houston, 3637 West Alabama, Suite 120, open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 713-877-1810,