Breathtaking artwork form Hiroshima artist looks more like photography than oil paintings.

With summer on the way, it’s time for people across Japan to start looking for ways to stay cool. You could stay at home sitting directly under a full-blast air conditioner, or down ice-cold beers one after another, but if you’re neither a hermit nor an alcoholic, a trip into the mountains is a nice way to beat the heat, especially if you take a dip in an alpine stream like the young lady seen above.

The image was recently shared on Twitter by Kei Mieno, though she’s not the woman lying in the river. As a matter of fact, the woman in the stream doesn’t have a name, because she’s not a real person, but instead the star of one of Mieno’s incredibly lifelike oil paintings.

▼ As is this cheerful individual

In her English profile, 33-year-old Mieno, a Hiroshima native, states “I do realism.” Accurate as that may be, it still feels like an enormous understatement for her artwork, which looks closer to photography than painting.

▼ This video gives a closer look at the unbelievable brushwork.

And it’s not just the women in Mieno’s paintings that are virtually impossible to distinguish from their real-life counterparts. Her ability to understand and recreate the effects of light and shadow, especially in the ripples of water in the flowing river, are incredible, providing an almost tangible sense of time and temperature.

▼ Looking at this piece, for example, you can almost feel your own shoulders being warmed by the last rays of the late afternoon sunshine.

While she’s most comfortable expressing herself through painting, Mieno has also written a description of her artistic ambition:

“I wonder if I can really express, in words, the things I’m feeling in a moment, the emotions and their strength. The words I use have one meaning to me, but that will never be exactly the same as the meaning they have in the mind of the person I’m talking with. When I put feelings and sensations into words, they get interpreted and changed into something else. I always end up thinking about this when there’s something I really want to tell someone.

What I’m trying to paint is what I see with my eyes. There’s a gap between the image reflected in our eyes, what’s transmitted to our brain, and what we hold onto in our heart, and depending on our emotions and consciousness, the shape and color change.

I want to paint the color, shape, and light that I feel inside of myself, and express all of those things I can’t put into words.”

Mieno may not be the very first artist to have us thinking we’re looking at a photograph instead of a painting, but her work is amazing all the same. If you’d like to see more, she has an exhibition opening on July 13 at Gallery Suchi in Tokyo’s Kayabacho neighborhood and running until July 28.

Related: Kei Mieno websiteGallery Suchi
Images: Twitter/@mienokei

[ Read in Japanese ]