The Art: Endgame (2017)
The Artist: Raphaël Melki

About the Work:

From the casual digital doodler to the great digital artists of our time, there are few that would consider Microsoft Paint viable software with which to create amazing images.

Raphaël Melki was probably one of them, but when he started out, MSPaint was the only option. Everything else was too expensive, or too complicated for the enthusiastic, yet inexperienced French artist.

“I began like all of you, drawing circles and rectangles and filling in the blank spaces with horrible fluro colours”, he wrote on Reddit. But by the time Melki had the skills and money to move on, he didn’t want to. He’d become fascinated by the texturing ability the program provided, and so he continued to experiment and grow.

Years later, he created Endgame. In all, the piece took two weeks to finish.

Endgame as a title seems less of a reference to the content of the image, and more to what the image represents: the pinnacle of artistry using MS Paint. The colour grading and texture work are especially astounding, and serve to expand the feel of the piece beyond the tone of the original reference photo. Melki captures what feels like the moment right after a rainstorm ends. There is a serenity to the work, one that inspires a romantic state of reflection the likes of which can only be achieved when walking through a usually busy area alone at night. With its flaring lights, the reference photo is gorgeous, but garish. Endgame is calm, and beautiful.

Melki reflects on how he felt while producing such work via the software: “And honestly again, I love the fact that despite the media being so often qualified as ‘naïve’ or ‘trivial’, one can actually make very detailed artworks like this one. This discrepancy between the means and the ends is really thought-provoking, to my mind”.

It’s an interesting statement, and one that serves to remind us that great art comes not from the tools, but the self.

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