Denis Peterson is widely recognized as the leading architect of a spinter art movement, Hyperrealism, with its roots in an older painting genre, Photorealism, which idealized and fetishized icons of contemporary culture in a detached and banal framework. Abandoning its traditional conventions, he illuminated the commodification of alternate realities found within that same contemporary culture: mass consumerism, systemic classism and societal decadence.

    Peterson has utilized Hyperrealism as a phenomenological vehicle for social change whereby his work has shown in museums worldwide. A radical painter, his compelling virtuosity addresses the timeless human condition with precision and dignity. He portrays anonymous ordinary people caught up in contemporary conflicts, neither glorifying nor heroising them.

    Denis Peterson captures the harsh realities of the American dream. His work addresses a sense of loss, pain/angst concerning our position in a culture dominated by corporate America. These socially conscious paintings are the products of an extraordinary labor of compassion.



Peterson alongside large airbrushed Photorealist painting



    My Photorealist paintings in the late 1960s and early 1970s emerged as a new genre following two highly distinguished schools of art: Abstract Expressionism and POP Art. However, lifelike images were not actualized simply by meticulous duplication of all the details in a photograph.

    The illusion was actually supported by subtle tonal changes and inter-relationships of abstract expressionist elements, without which my work would have lost much of its visceral energy. Airbrushing acrylic paints (new at the time) allowed for spontaneously blending colors directly on canvas through multiple glazes. Combining opaque and transparent applications achieved tonal articulation not otherwise achievable in compositional lighting or dimensional shading.

    When teaching in college, I maintained high standards in representational art, be it drawing or painting. Many works can be beautifully detailed and tonally modelled; yet they can fall short of the mark when the visual statement lacks any compelling content or contemporary context.

    In applying these same high standards to my own work over the years, my painting style evolved into a more advanced genre. I spontaneously termed it Hyperrealism based on my readings of philosopher Jean Baudrillard. Designating an appropriate descriptive name for a new genre was easily eclipsed by re-affirming a genuine state of hyper-reality in my work.

    Consequently, it became clear that my visual observations were acutely aligned with Hyperrealism as an illusory backdrop to decadence, mass consumerism, targeted populations and the like. This fueled my work to accelerate into a range of disenfrachised subjects outside the norm and to break away from the aesthetic conventions and values of Photorealism.

    A second generation painting genre, Hyperrealism is an evolutionary extension of Photorealism Some works by hyperrealist painters are polymorphic, adding a new dynamic to challenge viewer perceptions through altered illusions of reality and phantasmagorical visual statements.

    However, illusion is secondary to content, a means to an end. My ultimate objective is to create timeless compositions that can mesmerise the viewer and evoke a core response. Hyperrealism is a counter-culture genre that secures alternate realities in an existential frame of reference: the human condition. From my perspective, it is no longer enough to secure paintings in mundane frames of reference: objectified themes, banal subjects, or staged settings.

    My work instead incorporates aesthetic expression as an excursion into more substantive subjects. It is my deliberate intention to create evocative visual statements, and to that end, compositional integrity is given equivalent consideration to content, expression and meaning.

    Humanity, and the expression of humanity in my work, are constructs that assimilate an illusory sense of reality with an oppositional realm of hyperreality. Several painting series called for close interaction with subjects, whereby acute sensitivity to culturally driven deprivation was paramount to effectively communicating human needs through a human lens.

    At their core center, these hyperreal images at once articulate, question, and challenge our metrics of verisimilitude and illusion in their cultural subcontexts. In summary, my paintings are empirical compositions deliberately crafted as compelling visual statements that confront the ordered, the disordered, the connected, and the unconnected.




New York, NY



Zürich, Switzerland


Paris, France


Hollywood, CA