Hunt Slonem is an American colorist and figurative painter, best known for his large Neo-Expressionist oil paintings of tropical birds inspired by his personal aviary. His lavishly colored canvases are populated with rows of birds, bunnies and butterflies rendered with thick brushstrokes.
His earlier works of the birds, bunnies, and butterflies were painted wet-on-wet, hiding the subjects behind crosshatched patterns, creating a blurred effect and emphasizing the painting's tactile qualities. 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.” Besides the birds, Slonem also paints repetitions of flowers, bunnies, butterflies, as well as portraits, particularly of Abraham Lincoln.
Accroding to critic John Rothschild, "Slonem's work is deeply rooted in the act of painting. His jarring color choices, spontaneous mark making, and scratched hatch marks are the result of his ongoing fascination with the manipulation and implementation of paint." His work is known for his use of impasto and texture. The Manolis Projects features a large collection of these earlier works (1972-1987) of birds and butterflies painted in the wet-on-wet style where he explored man's relationship to nature and his own spirituality. This work was a reaction to the earlier Minimalist Movement and is characterized by bold colors.
Slonem has had over 300 one-man shows in galleries and museums internationally. His work is in the permanent collections of over 250 museums, including the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney.
The first piece of advice I received from my parents was don’t be an artist.
The second and best piece of advice was from Alex Katz who once said you’re never ready to show. And Philip Pearlstein at Skowhegan said, persist, never give up. He applied for a Fulbright for 16 years in a row. So just never give up.
- Hunt Slonem