Hunt Slonem is a Neo-Expressionist painter. His early work is highly reflective of his emotional truth. He paints his world of animals,both big and small, in a flourishing paradisiacal world. Hunt Slonem’s work is an invitation and a challenge to experience nature in all her variety, forms, and tendencies. Nature, to Slonem, is as much the source of timeless spiritual understanding and growth as well as a cultural construct, forever being rearranged, modified, and often disrupted by man. He was an early proponent of conservation and preservation of nature and animals.
His paintings are often an effective visual meditation on flowers, plants birds, and animals as our connectors to innocence, freshness, and spiritual lessons. Slonem is considered an art mystic. His empathy for animals- his ability to get inside them and experience what it’s like to feel and act as they do is a starting point of his art mysticism.
Slonem tries to capture people and animals in their moments of superior authenticity of animal-child vision- what he calls virginal vision. He believes that our own virginal vision can be recovered through art. “The belief in virginal vision and its restoration after vision has lost its virginity- indeed, become jaded, and thus blind to the peculiar freshness or virginity of existence – is at the core of art mysticism. Animals and birds are the model for the virginal spontaneity that is the core of artistic creation for Slonem.” Art Critic Donald Kuspit
During these early years, Slonem also painted numerous portraits of human beings and saints. He would capture them in their moments of rare innocence of being, in their virginal moments. He painted various mystics, such as Saint Rose of Lima, because they represent to him mysterious beings with the benign power to restore the peaceable kingdom- to live unhurt among animals- which is a traditional sign of sacredness. His Saints can survive in the jungle for they are as innocent and vital and direct as any of its creatures. Slonem‘s hope is that animals and human beings will live in peace together.