Jesse van Dijk’s Journey

Jesse van Dijk

What makes great science fiction art? What makes it work? What is it striving for? Artists like Jesse van Dijk’s paintings are successful when they represent the vastness of the worlds they portray. They create a sense of wonder. They allow us to imagine worlds that spawn from the artist’s imagination. Science fiction art, when it’s done well, can possess many of the attributes of classical painting.

The figure has a primary role in science fiction art. From the first science fiction artist creating illustrations for pulp fiction magazines and dime novels, being able to draw and paint the figure has been critical to the genre. Some of those spacesuits are pretty tight and most barbarians wear next to nothing. The best science fiction artists keep their figures believable. When an artist exaggerates there is a loss of the realism that makes the fantastic scene accessible to the viewer. It losses power when it’s exaggerated. How can an artist convince us that the three headed monster attacking our hero is real we can’t even believe our hero is real?

Landscape also plays a vital role in great science fiction art. To really create that sense of wonder and vastness nothing beats a panoramic landscape. We need to believe these imaginary worlds go on forever. Landscapes need to be plausible if not possible. It’s a big universe out there so maybe all kinds of wild landscapes are littered throughout space and time.

During the zenith of the French academy historical painting was considered the highest subject matter. Even more so than religious and mythological themes. Science fiction art is a combination of all of these. Science fiction is our new mythology. God know Dune is a better read than any holy book. Successful science fiction artists like van Dijk have managed to create a genre of painting that has many of the most attractive qualities of the long tradition of Western art.

The painting below is a commissioned work for something called Xyanide: Resurrection.

Jesse van Dijk

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