for paintings of tropical birds, monkeys, and portraits of famous and
historical figures; in his current solo exhibition at Madison Gallery, the
artist presents a new body of work, featuring one particular furry subjects:
rabbits. Titled “Bunnies
,” the show
features oil paintings executed in the simple, gestural style typical of
Slonem’s work; in their muted palette, these also constitute a marked departure
from his best-known work, which is recognized for its rich surface textures,
bright colors, and all-over compositional style.
Slonem has said
, “I like
color next to color next to color.” He’s famous for his collection of birds,
turtles, monkeys, and other pets, and for his enthusiastic
style. The bunny paintings are part of Slonem’s daily artistic routine, a kind
of drawing exercise done as an in-studio warm-up. In them, one can see the
trained relationship between the artist’s hand and eye. And one can also detect
the personality of each animal, a feature that Slonem feels obliged to
accurately depict. The subject of Untitled CS0572
(2011), is a little
shy and sly, its head bowed as it eyes the viewer.
Like many artists, Slonem mines
recurring images and continuously discovers new possibilities within them. His
pensive hand and muted palette in the bunny paintings are reminiscent of the
, whose meditative still lifes of bottles, pitchers, and plates
reveal the objects’ psychological associations, not unlike the narrative and
emotional vibrancy that Slonem finds in his rabbits. In some works, such as Untitled
(2013), Slonem layers or repeats the rabbits—to almost abstract
Many of the paintings are framed in
unique vintage frames selected by the artist. Rather than relying on tricks or
stylized or routinized brush marks, the artist approaches each subject afresh
and inquisitively. Some, such as the black-and-sienna-on-orange Untitled
CS0344 (2012), are rendered in quick, sweeping strokes and incised marks.
Others, like Theodore CS1129 (2009), are slowly built up with hesitant
daubs that accumulate into a rich portrait.
Slonem: Bunnies” is on view at Madison Gallery,
La Jolla, California, Aug. 23rd–Sept. 23rd, 2014.