Private Project

F. Scott Hess: A Reluctant Realist

F. Scott Hess, one of the most important figurative artists in America today, paints the dysfunction of modern life with Old Master technique. The film follows his 6 year journey making a national exhibition about his questionable 400 year family history.

  • Shirin Bazleh
  • Shirin Bazleh
  • Shirin Bazleh
  • Susan Carney
  • Myung Kim
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    59 minutes 38 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 7, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Shirin Bazleh

Born and raised in Abadan, Iran, Shirin Bazleh moved to the United States after finishing high school in Iran. She received her BA in Mass Communications from Emerson College in Boston and MA in Communication Arts from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Bazleh started her professional career in the film industry as an assistant editor at Saul Zaentz Studios and Lucas Films in San Francisco.
Since 1993 Bazleh has been working in Los Angeles as director, producer, writer and editor on over 100 hours of films and television.

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Director Statement

Painting is trendier than ever – and makes conceptual art look out of touch. In the 1990s, conceptual and new media art looked like the future, but such art has one huge drawback, it is inherently elitist.
Impure and fluid, worldly and engaged, in many ways conceptual art was a philosophical quest: a search for a vanishing point, for the outer limits of what might constitute a work of art. But now, representational art has made a comeback and no one does it better than F. Scott Hess.

Painting dead? If so we must be suffering the attack of the zombie painters, because this old art is invading every corner of the modern world from the coolest corners of the art world to underneath your local railway bridges.

This documentary gives insight into the complex and visionary artistry of Hess, one of America's most prolific and provocative figurative artists of the 21st Century. Hess has described himself as a "reluctant realist," and realism is not a fashionable position, suggesting that Hess casts himself as an alienated outsider, all the more so because his realism is grounded in Old Master craft and intelligence. And, even more subtly, in an Old Master formalism -- more complicated, devious and expressively insinuating than modernist formalism -- that informs the narratives which mask it. Like Old Master realism, Hess’ realism speaks in symbolic tongues and formal paradoxes, which is not exactly to speak plainly.

After 32 years, he reunites with his father and spends six years creating a mock National Exhibit questioning the authority of perceived truths through the prism of his dubious 400 year paternal family history. Art historians, critics and collectors share their perspective on Scott's importance in the future of the new “Modern Art”.