Joel Rea, photo by Chris Hyde

Joel Rea

Australia 1983


Joel Rea
Joel Rea
August 8, 2016
Aya received her MA in English Language and Literature in 2012. She likes dancing, traveling, cycling and spending time with her pets.

Located in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, Australia has an ever-growing number of artists who present new ways of looking at the world around us. One of the country’s leading names in contemporary art is Joel Rea, known for his oil paintings of hyperrealistic portraits and landscapes. Often using a brush as thin as just a few hairs, his imaginative realities are meticulously developed for hours, so that in the end they become very detailed and smooth scenes, which explore the mutual influences between nature and humans. Drawing inspiration from photoshoots, designs and everyday situations, he creates powerful images that focus on magnificent animals or people in surreal apocalyptic situations.

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Joel Rea – The Other Side, 2014

A Duality of Opposites

The artist’s paintings present a duality of opposites which can be found in nature. Nature is both a majestic source of purity, a timeless physical element, and dark, threatening force, which can be destructive. The power of destruction is both alluring and devastating. It is a metaphor for human experience and emotion. Rea’s works depict scenes such as giant dogs chasing miniature people, tigers, tsunami and violent storms that trigger our imagination. His amazing technique and an exquisite use of light produce lucid paintings that hold our attention to the very last of many, many details.

Human figures and tigers are predominant imagery in his recent works

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Joel Rea – Solo, 2015 (Left) / Conquest, 2013 (Right)

Symbolism of Rea’s Paintings

Rea mixes several elements and manipulates the scene in order to create works that reflect richness and complexity of our lives. His paintings don’t shy away from displaying darker side of emotions, obstacles and struggles. The visual language of his pieces seems relatable and familiar, but at the same time intriguing and confusing, since Rea juxtaposes visual elements to create an attention-grasping story. His paintings, both beautiful and savage, make the viewer wonder about the story presented on canvas. They freeze in the moment before the inevitable happens, leaving the viewer captivated in front of a dramatic and tragic scene. His works center around issues of survival, climate change and extinction. Rea’s symbolism is accessible and understandable, but at the same time deep and comforting, even when the promised land is unreachable. The artist includes himself in the stories of his paintings, and his everyday doubts.

His paintings center around issues of survival, climate change and extinction

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Joel Rea – The Promised Land, 2015

Awards and Prizes

Joel Rea has received numerous awards in Australia. It all started in 2003 when he was chosen by Queensland College of Art as the recipient of the Griffith Award for excellence in Fine Art. The same year, Joel was awarded Golden Key International Honour Society’s membership, which is awarded to those who achieve scholastic excellence. He was selected as a finalist in the Redland Gallery Art Award in Cleveland, Metro Art Award by Metro Gallery in Melbourne, the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture in Perth two years in a row, Salon des Refusés in Sydney, and prestigious Sulman Prize in Sydney, among others. Rea was proclaimed Gold Coast Rotary Young Achiever in Vocational Excellence in 2011, and he won the ANL Maritime Award in Melbourne in 2013. The same year, American magazine Art Business News selected Joel Rea as one of 30 artists under the age of 30 who are revolutionizing the world of fine arts.

A video created to promote Rea:

Celebration of Life

Joel Rea was born in 1983 in England. When he was a child, his family moved to Australia, where he obtained his BFA from Queensland College of Art in 2003. He has exhibited his oeuvre in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia, in the United States and United Kingdom. In one of his recent one-man show Beast of Arcadia, human figures and tigers were featured as predominant imagery. The dreamlike and catastrophic paintings celebrated life and deconstructed its perfection at the same time. Through all of his paintings, Joel Rea does not only demonstrate his undeniable skills with a brush, but also introduces us to his own re-invented universe and takes us on an unexpected adventure filled with action and intrigue.

Joel Rea lives and works in Queensland, Australia.

Featured image: Joel Rea – portrait, photo by Chris Hyde
All images copyright of the artist

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2015Beasts of ArcadiaJonathan LeVine Gallery, New York, USASolo
2015PaintguideThe Unit Gallery, Soho, LondonGroup
2015Cutback: Surfing Through ArtGold Coast City Art Gallery, Gold CoastGroup
2014EternalGallery One, Gold Coast, AUSSolo
2014The Other Side, Melbourne Art FairGallery One, Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneSolo
2014Conquest of Space: Science Fiction and Contemporary ArtCOFA, UNSW, SydneyGroup
2014Based on Actual EventsJonathan Levine Gallery, New YorkGroup
2014Sulman PrizeArt Gallery of New South Wales, SydneyGroup
2014Black Swan Portrait Prize, Finalists ExhibitionPerthGroup
2013Beneath the BlueGallery One, Gold CoastSolo
2013Another Time Another PlaceMetro Gallery, MelbourneGroup
2013Fleurieu Art Prize, Finalists ExhibitionAdelaideGroup
2013Maritime Art Award, Finalists ExhibitionMelbourneGroup
2013Black Swan Portrait Prize, Finalists ExhibitionPerthGroup
2013Salon Des RefusesS.H. Ervin Gallery, SydneyGroup
2012Existence of RealityLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneSolo
2012Art on ArtGold Coast City Art Gallery, Gold CoastGroup
2012San Diego Contemporary Art FairCalifornia, USAGroup
2012Clayton Utz Art Award Finalists ExhibitionBrisbaneGroup
2012Art Melbourne 2012Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneGroup
2011Metro Gallery Art Award Finalists ExhibitionMelbourneGroup
2011Art Melbourne11Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneGroup
2011Clayton Utz Art Award Finalists ExhibitionBrisbaneGroup
2011Lethbridge 10000 Art Award Finalists ExhibitionBrisbaneGroup
2011Prometheus Visual Art Award Finalists ExhibitionGold CoastGroup
2010Monuments and MiniaturesLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneSolo
2010Art Sydney10Royal Hall of Industries, SydneyGroup
2010Redland Gallery Art Award Finalists ExhibitionBiennial Contemporary Painting Competition, ClevelandGroup
2010Metro Art Award Finalists ExhibitionMetro Gallery, MelbourneGroup
2010Group ExhibitionAstras Galleries, Gold CoastGroup
2010Netanya Resort ConferenceHastings Street, NoosaGroup
2009The Balance DivineLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneSolo
2009New PaintingsCoda Gallery, Palm Desert, California, USAGroup
2009Art Melbourne 09Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneGroup
2009New PaintingsLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
2008Art Sydney08Royal Hall of Industries, SydneyGroup
2008Art Brisbane08Convention & Exhibition Centre, BrisbaneGroup
2008Art Melbourne08Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneGroup
2008New PaintingsLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
2007Where There’s FireArt Melbourne07, Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneSolo
2007Art Sydney07Royal Hall of Industries, SydneyGroup
2007New PaintingsLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
2007Art Melbourne07Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneGroup
2006High FidelityLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneSolo
2006Sajen Legal Art ShowMaroochydore, Sunshine CoastGroup
2006Art Melbourne06Royal Exhibition Building, MelbourneGroup
2006New PaintingsLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
2006St. Margaret’s Art ShowAscot, BrisbaneGroup
2006Art Sydney06Royal Hall of Industries, SydneyGroup
2005Brisbane Art FairConvention & Exhibition Centre, BrisbaneGroup
2005Art Sydney05Royal Hall of Industries, SydneyGroup
2005Melbourne Affordable Art ShowRoyal Exhibition Building, MelbourneGroup
2005New PaintingsLethbridge Gallery, BrisbaneGroup
2004MentorshipBrett Lethbridge, BrisbaneGroup
2004Departure LoungeGold CoastGroup
2004Border Art PrizeTweed River Art GalleryGroup