Mike Nowak

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Scottsdale, AZ artist James Barnett, formerly known as El Rey, has invented the term ‘fauxvism’ for his newly-posted series of landscape paintings capturing the videogame vistas of Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto, Half Life and Team Fortress, all in the style of early-20th-century Matisse and Derain-led art movement Fauvism.

He has graciously provided us with a handful of higher resolution images that we’ve included below, with further explanation from Barnett himself.


Barnett briefly describes his methodology:

These aren’t from screenshots I found online; I navigated around inside of each of the games until I found a composition I liked, and then made a painting of it. I certainly spend more time in games than wandering the idyllic countryside.


The Derain-like style turns the mostly brown and grey city of Fallout 3‘s Megaton (above) into an explosion of reds and yellows. When asked why he chose this style, Barnett responded:

I get a kind of perverse thrill out of using old, old art styles to depict these very modern things. The Fauves came after the Impressionists and just went bonkers with slabs of paint and these crazy colors and cartoony outlines; as videogames get closer and closer to reality, I thought it’d be fun to jump back and paint them like that.


His favorite game of the ones he’s painted? “2fort” (above) makes the answer obvious:

TF2, hands down. The voice acting, in particular, is note-perfect. Almost no games do humor properly, and Valve just nails it, down to the fake ads with Saxton Hale.

James Barnett – Paintings of Video Games [James Barnett can be found admiring the vistas on Steam under the username “spingo”.]

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