Hunt Slonem – Swallows
Dimensions: 40 x 60″ finished size
Medium: oil on wood
Hunt Slonem’s “Guardians and Butterflies” reminds us of the joy we can find in the natural world. Here, the black and white dots are the “guardians”–the eyes of monkeys looking through the jungle thicket. Various types of butterflies circulate, and their guardians watch and protect their journey.
Hunt Slonem is an internationally recognized American painter, sculptor, and printmaker. His work has been exhibited in more than 350 galleries and museums worldwide, and is represented in over 100 museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Miro Foundation, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. He exhibits regularly at both public and private venues around the world, and has received numerous honors and awards, including a MacDowell Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts grant. He lives in New York City and Louisiana, where he has notably restored two important plantations to their original states.
Inspired by nature and his sixty pet birds, Hunt Slonem is best known for his distinct Neo-Expressionist oil paintings of bunnies, butterflies, and the tropical birds in his personal aviary. His lavishly colored canvases are populated with birds rendered with thick brushstrokes. “I was influenced by Warhol’s repetition of soup cans and Marilyn,” Slonem says. “But I’m more interested in doing it in the sense of prayer, with repetition… It’s really a form of worship.” According to The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, “This witty Formalist strategy meshes the creatures into the picture plane and sometimes nearly obliterates them as images, but it also suspends and shrouds them in a dim, atmospheric light that is quite beautiful.” Hunt Slonem tends to embrace the ephemeral beauty of nature, a characteristic that brings a nurturing, spiritual effect to his creations.
Hunt Slonem has always had a strong connection to the subjects he represents in his work. As a child, Slonem first felt a connection to birds while living in Hawaii, which deepened further during his time in Central America where he was inspired by the people’s devotion and spiritual fervor. The fascination continued into adulthood; not only does he admire the colorful animals from afar, but he also collects the exotic birds, which reside with him in his New York studio. The lush studio is a sanctuary for the animals and the artist. Slonem’s constant companions flitter and chat around him all day helping him to capture his immediate surroundings with rhythm and style. The poet and art critic John Ashbery describes Slonem’s depiction of these ephemeral creatures as, “dazzling explosions of the variable life around us that need only to be looked at in order to spring into being.” Slonem creates beautiful, surprising scenes that offer a calming joy to those who encounter them.