Envisioning an exotic, magical world – Hunt Slonem
Space Gallery St Barth 藝術家在 Pure Luxury 雜誌上發表
Published by Pure Luxury Magazine
Edition Jul-Aug 2022 - Arts and Culture Section, August 2, 2022 (Page 70)
Photographs by Brandon Schulman
Bunnies, more bunnies; butterflies, and more butterflies... Hunt Slonem's style is in its own right, needing no definition, but still instantly recognizable. He shuttles between reality and the fantasy world he created with his paintbrush, and always maintains a childlike curiosity. Therefore, it is not difficult to explain why his works always show a kind of beautiful innocence.
Slonem was born in Kittery, Maine, USA in 1951. Perhaps childhood memories are vague for most people, but Slonem admitted that he discovered his love for art at a very young age.
He shared with us: "When I was about two years old, I wanted to be a painter, and only wanted to be a painter. My grandfather painted a lot and shared his paintings with us. It can be said that my childhood smelt like oil paint. My parents tried to paint, and they always took me to museums, art galleries, museums. Growing up, nothing seemed to fascinate me more than art.”
The edification of the family's literary and artistic atmosphere enabled Slonem to find a career direction, and the many travel experiences accumulated since childhood have indirectly contributed to his unique style and vocabulary. Due to his father's position as a naval officer, Slonem moved with his parents many times as a child, including long-term stays in Hawaii, California and Connecticut. He continued to seek travel opportunities in his youth, studying abroad in Nicaragua and Mexico. He explored the world curiously, and those eye-opening experiences gave him an endless enthusiasm for tropical and exotic landscapes.
Hunt Slonem in Dubai - Photographs by Brandon Schulman
After earning a degree in painting and art history from Tulane University in New Orleans, Slonem lived in Manhattan for several years in the early seventies. It wasn't until that summer in 1975, when artist Janet Fish offered him her studio, that Slonem was able to fully immerse himself in his art. It can be said that it was a summer that changed his life. His work began to be exhibited across New York, boosting his reputation in the art world and propelling him into the city's explosive contemporary art scene. He has also received several prestigious arts grants, including the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation in Montreal. Today, Slonem's works are included in the permanent collections of more than 250 art museums, and people from all over the world can appreciate his strange world through his paintings or statues.
The ways in which insightful artists find inspiration are often too numerous to list. Color, fashion, and works from different periods and artists are all sources of creation for Slonem. However, after more than 50 years in the art field, nature is still the subject that fascinates him and affects him the most. Slonem said: "Art is the best part of life, like nature. It can be an expression that reflects nature, and that's often what I do. Art is like another dimension of consciousness, helping us to transcend the mundane, Arrive in a colorful, sublime and magical world.” Because he loves nature, no matter where he lives, Slonem always loves to cultivate some plants. And his best-known personal style is like a bud transforming into a towering tree, wanton and spontaneous growth. The lovely creatures that Slonem observes in life, as well as the fleeting beautiful scenes, are recorded by brushes, thus gaining eternity.
Talking about how the works are created, Slonem jokingly said:
"It's just putting the brush on the canvas." Many times his inspiration even appeared in his dreams. He continued to share: "Some creative ideas will follow me Waking up. Although most of my work needs to be prepared a few days in advance, there is spontaneity in creation, and there are always many unexpected things that happen when I actually write. I am never 100% sure, and I like It’s the surprise.”
Art is how Slonem’s life unfolds. Early on he experimented with depicting saints. Later, bright colors combined with rabbits, parrots, butterflies and other animal shapes, this simplest artistic expression became his most well-known style and was preserved by him. He said:
"This seems to be the theme that the world needs and responds to the most. It is great to focus on a specific theme because I can delve into materials and new forms of creation. I have recently explored 3D stereoscopic, glass , bronze, mosaic and other media and forms.”
The pandemic has been one of the toughest times in Slonem's life, but life in isolation hasn't stopped his creations either.
"No one came to work during that period, and I lost contact with people for a few months," Slonem said of his experience during the epidemic, "but I had the free time and space to do everything and re-examine A theme that I haven’t touched for many years. In special times, I work non-stop, and I enjoy the process of fully immersing myself in creation, and it is my work that saves me.”
The lines and shapes of animals in Slonem's pen are pure and simple, even showing a kind of childishness. I think this is indeed what our society needs—burst of color and childlike innocence. It is a feast for the eyes and a nourishment for the soul.