Kevin Sloan | Fervent Emblems
March 11 – April 15, 2023
“There’s never a bad time to plot a defense of beauty.” - Enrique Martinez Celaya
Known for his metaphoric and surreal paintings that use nature as a dramatic backdrop, Sloan’s enigmatic work wittily and poignantly juxtaposes the human material world with the natural. He opines, “I am interested in what it means to be a painter of the silent, often overlooked, non-human world in a time of much social and political upheaval.”
This fresh body of work, following his celebrated 2021 exhibition at the Denver Botanic Gardens entitled “Radiant Season", still employs symbolism, but takes a simpler approach. A new emphasis on vibrant vs. somber colors draws the viewer in and lets the imagery sing forth – an exuberant collection of massive flowers and agricultural landscapes “littered” with asynchronous objects from the human world like picture frames, game die, and piles of clocks. They take the cliché of a vase of flowers and allow it to explode into irrational, exaggerated blooms and fruit which distort the expectations of still-life painting. In one, opulent, oval-framed paintings of flowers float like clouds above tilled fields. Each painting has a central image in the foreground, functioning like an icon or shrine-like emblem. These central images are familiar, yet strange, adhering to their own internal logic and offering opportunities for ambiguous metaphor.
According to the artist, "Our endlessly consequential human-centered issues can wait for another day. Today is a day to defend beauty, in all its humble, magnificent, and unexpected manifestations."