By deliberately exaggerating the image, the artist can lead the viewer away from the surrounding reality into another world that also looks real, but is completely unfamiliar. English artist Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), born in Cookham, drew inspiration from the Christian faith. In many of his paintings, rural residents are shown in modern versions of traditional religious subjects: for example, “Resurrection” (1924-1926). In this picture, the figures are depicted so inflated that it seems as if they are about to fly into the sky.
Although Spencer did not seek deliberate distortion, such examples arouse the viewer’s curiosity. Popular contemporary artist Veryl Cooke (1926) portrays people as incredibly fat to make them look funnier.
Distortion is also characteristic of the work of many other British artists, ranging from William Blake to Graeme Sutherland and Henry Moore. The style of each of them is based on a strong individualistic vision of the world around them.
Technical reasons for distortion
If the picture is larger than the object being depicted, the artist may find it appropriate to distort the shape, position of objects, or the space between them in favor of the composition. For example, when Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) painted a portrait 3 meters high, he put the viewer on the box so that the perspective of the picture correctly correlated with his point of view. Distorting what we see in order to create the right impression is a very useful compositional technique.