Arizona artist David T. Kessler has exhibited in many prestigious places, holds advanced degrees and is most renowned for his treatment of aluminum “canvas” to create a remarkably real looking watery surface. In a technique that has taken Kessler some 25 years to perfect, the photo-real quality of his paintings is simply remarkable.

"Floating Blossoms" - David Kessler
“Floating Blossoms” – David Kessler

At first glance, a viewer may think Kessler’s images are large scale photographs and close-ups of pond surfaces or small ephemeral creeks. The depth and realism captured in each painting is extraordinary with the reflective quality of the aluminum lending itself well to the subject matter. Layers of finely applied airbrushed paint over the etched metal gives the illusion that you are indeed looking through clear, moving water.

This work, some of which is hanging in the Ottosen Gallery at the Desert Botanical Garden now through May 7th, contains what Kessler describes as “the elements of simulation”, the painting of refracted light with the “hybridization of the aluminum, wire brushes and paint.” Visually, Kessler seeks to create an image that embraces both modernism and post-modernism ideals and water is a favored topic due to its universal recognition and mutable qualities.  Cool and inviting, you can imagine yourself wading right in to sooth weary feet.

David Kessler in his studio
David Kessler in his studio

David Kessler is represented by six galleries including Stricoff Fine Art Ltd. in New York and the Bentley Gallery in Phoenix. His paintings are in permanent collection at least half a dozen museums across the nation, in Germany and several places in Arizona. His extensive biography and resume, along with more images, can be viewed online here.  See if you can tell if it is real or not.