In figurative paintings and drawings, characters are depicted in a context that removes the focus from the portrayal of distinct individuals. As opposed to portraiture, heads might be turned away, faces might be de-emphasized, the figure might be painted within a scene that shares equal attention, the painting/drawing might portray characters as allegorical representations of an idea, or the characters might be treated as replaceable actors within a drama.
The character(s) in a figurative piece can be real or imaginary, human or animal. The artist might do a figurative piece to express group dynamics, social conditions, or the relationship between individuals and nature/the universe. Finally, an artist might choose this genre as a vehicle for aesthetic expression, emphasizing abstraction, mark making, distortions, and/or palette exploration.
Featured: The Dance of the Pleiades by Elihu Vedder.