Hunt Slonem, (1951-)
Hunt Slonem is a veteran to one-man shows in global hot spots like Venice, San Juan, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Stockholm, Oslo, Tokyo, Dubai and Hong Kong. Over one hundred museums worldwide include his distinctive works in their collections. After leaving Warhol’s factory in the early 1970s, Slonem has lived and worked in New York City, in an enormous loft, large enough to indulge his unquenchable passion for antique collecting, be it furniture, exotic artifacts or ornate picture frames. His loft studio showcases his vast painting collection, hung on colorfully painted walls, and more than forty five live birds and a token cat complete the scene. So enmeshed and unique are his aviary, studio, lifestyle and painting, that he has been featured numerous times in print, television and film. The artist additionally maintains a mansion in up-state New York and two plantations in Louisiana; each flourishing with the magical ambiance that is Hunt Slonem.
Slonem uses an abstract platform for his traditional subject matter, developed with gestured brushwork and bold Warholesque repetitive compositions. The scratched grids that cover the forms beneath exert a literal bondage and a protective domain, the visual effect of which is spellbinding. The textures achieved by Slonem’s trade-mark etching capture light and further emphasize the ethereal nature Slonem has bestowed his beloved subjects. Lush with fauvist colors set on shimmering gold backgrounds, his exotic creatures are regal in their repetitive poses filling the canvas with energy and spirit.
Multiple canvases are developed simultaneously. Slonem treats each canvas in a base coat of orange-red; a tool borrowed from the old masters to create luminosity. The artist paints areas of the canvas, building layers side by side as well as one on top of the next. He works on each area swiftly, allowing the paint to dry just enough, before applying cross-hatching with the opposite end of his paint brush. Observing the artist at work, it is clear that he is equally as fascinated with the manipulation of paint as he is his joyful subjects.
Born in Kittery Maine, Hunt Slonem spent his childhood moving from state to state as his father was a Naval Officer. He spent time in California, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Virginia and Washington. While studying at Tulane, he traveled in Mexico and Nicaragua – each a foundation for his love of nature, color and animals. He also spent a summer at the renowned Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In the early 70s, Slonem moved to New York and started using Nicaraguan holy cards as subject matter for paintings. In the 1980s, after three trips to India, his work became more formal and complex in composition. The signature hatch marks appeared as early as 1988. Slonem has created monumental public sculpture and panoramic murals including an 85-foot long frieze for the Bryant Park Grill. In 2008, Hunt Slonem signed a contract with Tiffany & Co. for production of luxury chinaware featuring his quintessential parrots.
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