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Figurative painting focuses on the representation of external and concrete forms, and has been part of the artistic expressions of many cultures since ancient times.
The issues addressed by figurative painting are varied, from humans to landscapes and animals or inanimate objects.
During long periods of time, the figurative painting style has been the dominant art form, like during the Renaissance and Baroque era, where the attention to detail took on a special significance; they were times when painters were subject to capture reality as closely as possible, 'copying' from life.
Already in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, new trends such as symbolism, impressionism and expressionism began to move away , to a greater or lesser extent, from that fidelity to the object, using the actual reference as a vehicle to convey a message, idea or feeling, as the mimesis with reality was not a priority anymore. Some examples of this can be seen in the work of Van Gogh and Sorolla (Impressionists) Munch and Nolde (expressionists) and Julio Romero de Torres (symbolist).
Later in the twentieth century, and opposing to figurative painting, new painting movements with radically new approaches emerged, which would be included in the realm of the abstract. Still, figurative painting is still present in postmodern movements such as pop art and surrealism.
Representatives of these currents as Guillermo Pérez Villalta Miguel Barceló (Spain) and, and Baselitz, Kiefer, Clemente or Chia (Europe and U.S.A.) continue to use the figurative techniques in their works.