The ancient Roman festival Floralia, believed to be the precursor to May Day, was a six-day celebration honoring Flora, the goddess of flowers, vegetation, and fertility. It was a particularly decadent and lascivious festival, punctuated with elaborate games and theatrical performances. White robes cast aside in favor of brightly colored garments and the city’s prostitutes were revered for their sexuality and power. After such a brutal and frigid winter, curator Alix Sloan thought what better way to embrace a much-anticipated spring than with an exhibition embracing all things “Floralia”? For this special two-day exhibition, she has selected four artists - Julia Marchand, Martha Rich, Jonny Ruzzo and Susan Siegel – for their relationships to, and fabulous, saturated depictions of, beauty, decadence, playfulness and/or the spirit of springtime.
San Francisco bay area artist Julia Marchand believes the desire to reconcile the simultaneous connection and separation between humanity and nature is ancient, ubiquitous and inescapable. In her work she attempts to “explore how that relationship affects our personal and social identity,” and finds that, “springtime is particularly fertile ground for examining this tenuous connection.” In her new body of work, “Masks,” created for the exhibition, Marchand honors the festival of Floralia with a highly saturated palette and nods to the celebration’s pagan roots. In addition to Sloan Fine Art in New York, Marchand’s intensely personal and colorful works have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at galleries and museums including PPOW in New York, Varnish Fine Art in San Francisco, Museo de la Cuidad de Mexico in Mexico City and Stolen Space Gallery in London.
Throughout her career as a successful and well-regarded fine artist and illustrator, Philadelphia based Martha Rich has explored issues of femininity, beauty and identity with brilliance, humor and charm. Having just survived the “bleakest, bitter coldest, snowiest, longest, dirty grayest city winter” she can remember, this new body of work is Rich’s own “personal f-ing Floralia Festival. Color! Flowers! Feast! Nakedness! Mayhem!” In addition to a selection of framed works, Rich has created over thirty works on paper that she will install at the gallery in a colorful and celebratory installation. Rich earned a BFA from Art Center College of Design and then an MFA from University of Pennsylvania. In addition to exhibiting extensively worldwide, she is a faculty member at FIT in NYC and will be leading a “learning vacation” for Ace Camps in New Orleans this fall.
The fact that spring is New York artist Jonny Ruzzo’s favorite season is evident in his work. His mixed media paintings explore issues of sexuality, gender and perceptions of beauty and feature luscious colors layered with dazzling and reflective materials such as gold leaf and diamond dust. And his uninhibited, expressive subjects and lush compositions are enough to make anyone want to lie down in a field of warm grass and savor the sweetness of spring. Since graduating from School of Visual Arts in 2012, Ruzzo has participated in several group shows on the east coast and he mounted his first solo exhibition at Bunnycutlet Gallery in Brooklyn last year. Sloan Fine Art is thrilled to introduce Los Angeles art lovers to Ruzzo’s bold and powerful work.
For Susan Siegel, floralia conjures the fragility of nature, that moment of fecundity verging on rot. “It's this straddling between the two worlds of bloom and withering that my fable like portraits seek to forever cement the importance and status of the subject but incidentally reveal a looming impermanence inherent to all living things.” Since graduating from New York Academy of Art in 2010, Siegel has been building an impressive exhibition history with shows in New York and Los Angeles. Her work is included in Rizzoli’s upcoming book “The Figure: Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture with text by Donald Kuspit and Irving Sandler. Sloan Fine Art will also release an exclusive, limited edition print of one of Siegel’s “Floralia” paintings in conjunction with the show.