"Saint Francis preached to the birds and Hunt Slonem paints them. There is not much difference between the Saint's and the artist's reverence and respect for them: birds are spiritual beings. They are in effect the chorus of angels watching over us."
- Donald Kuspit
New York artist, Hunt Slonem (b.1951-), is internationally known for his brightly colored neo-expressionist "maximalist" oil paintings of butterflies, bunnies, animal portraits and tropical birds inspired by his personal aviary.
Slonem says, "Birds signify divinity in their ability to leave the realm of earthly constraints behind through their ability of flight, as a direct metaphorical transcendence from the realm of man to that of spirit.” While, often using the color white to portray the spiritual purity of his subjects, Slonem, repeats these motifs on an epic scale in an act of visual and artistic mantra.
Slonem has a deep seeded love and identification with avian abilities, as evident in his many of his works. Fascinated by the paradoxical nature of their existence- organic beings that share our earthly realm, yet unbound by its constraints- able to transcend the enigmas that plague the world of man into the boundless, unadulterated, mysticism of the heavens without a second thought. "As the luminous atmosphere that envelops Slonem's birds suggests, he envisions them existing in paradise. Indeed, however dark the material, they seem to dissolve in light-dematerialize-as in Cockatoos, which are pure presences, all but disembodied," remarks critic, Donald Kuspit.
Slonem’s home, like his paintings, serves as a sanctuary for the lost souls of the animal kingdom. His being exists emersed in their presence, strengthened by the aura of their wildness, rejoicing in their being as they bless his own. The creative, lush, vibrance of his works centers around the transformation of the objects of his adoration, harnessing the inherent savagery of their being, into gloriously benign internal forms. This is perhaps best exemplified in his work, Ocelots, inspired by the seemingly dangerous ocelots found in his sanctuary, at gentle interplay with one another.
Rendering the inner life and virginal sense of the animal consciousness gives us a glimpse of the pure life of nature through their eyes. This unsullied, spontaneous sense of life, which Slonem believes to be disappearing, is recovered and restored through his works. Slonem is a major art mystic, the core of which is inspired by his empathy for animals. Animals exist before art, and it is this virginal, unconstrained character of the animal that inspires his spirited, profound works. Slonem’s paintings serve as an expression of the spiritual unconscious; of a higher world that lives deep in our souls. It is his profound connection with mysticism and channelers that allows him to evoke a sense of communication with a higher existence, in hopes of restoring a connection with our authentic selfhood, ultimately inspiring and healing the world.