Maker Monday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Hunt Slonem

With Easter right around the corner, what better way to celebrate than shining light on renowned artist, Hunt Slonem. Naturally, he is known for his infamous and interesting bunnies that pop up on any given piece he creates. Hunt’s other pieces of work are just as eccentric, eliciting inspiration from other curious creatures including monkeys, butterflies and toucans. Slonem’s work has been seen all over the world as he’s taken part in a handful of special exhibitions (over 350 to be exact.) Maybe the Easter bunny will be good to us all this year and surprise us with a Hunt Slonem piece…but we can only dream, right? Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Hunt Slonem.

The tell-tale sign of Hunt’s work are his signature bunnies. Pictured in his studio is the Bunny Wall, where he paints these precious creatures with oil on wood. Also included on the wall are some of his Butterfly interpretations via the same medium.

Andrew Joseph: What’s a guilty pleasure you have?
Hunt Slonem: Shopping! Especially for my historic homes which I love to restore. I love all of my homes. I never get tired of them, and each one is like starting a new canvas. I’m not a decorator, and I’m not a designer. I’m an artist.

Andrew: How would you describe your personal style?
Hunt: I’ve been called a neo-expressionist a great deal, but I love Howard Hodgkin’s line “non-category” the best because I don’t like to be included in a group description. My favorite word to describe my style is Exotica. I derive all my inspiration from nature. Everything I paint is from my own experience.

The sculptures in the bottom right corner consist of toucans, parrots, cockatoos and monkeys. Created exclusively with acrylic on wood, these fun pieces are effervescent and convivial.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Hunt: Doing massive sculptures in public places and hospitals.

Andrew: What are you most proud of?
Hunt: My persistence in life and my never-ending enthusiasm to keep going.

Andrew: Are you a pet person? Why either way? Dogs or cats?
Hunt: Birds. My fascination with birdlife started in Hawaii when I was a young child. They captivate me. I’m drawn to their colors, their forms, their songs, and their mystical qualities.

Above is a blue bunny that has been created with oil, acrylic, plaster, and resin on wood. Hunt’s ability to replicate his signature style through various media is fascinating and, above all else, impressive.

Andrew: What are three things you can’t live without?
Hunt: Food, air, water and prayer.

Andrew: What’s your biggest fear in life?
Hunt: Not having enough space to work and survive.

Andrew: What’s your go-to snack between zooms?
Hunt: Bai Drinks.

The vibrant piece above is called “Tailspin Ocelots & Orbs, 2020″⁠ The medium sized cat is known for its solid black spots and streaks on its coat. Hunt painted these wildly beautiful creatures with oil on canvas.

Andrew: What are some creative ways that you have kept yourself busy during quarantine?
Hunt: Revisited some of my ideas from my past work, particularly Ocelots. Being more isolated than ever has given me the concentration to go deeper in my work.

Andrew: Who/what was your biggest supporter or motivator in these unsettling times?
Hunt: I’m my biggest motivator and collectors of mine in Louisiana have been huge supporters.

Now through May, Hunt Slonem collectors, fans and home decor enthusiasts can own a piece of Hunt Slonem art in the form of luxury goods. The Loft space on the 7th floor of famed retailer Bergdorf Goodman will be transformed into the enchanting and fantastical world of Slonem complete with never before seen original art including his famous Bunny wall. In addition to Bergdorf’s, The collection is available through HopUp.Shop, and through top specialty stores throughout the country.

About The Maker | Hunt Slonem (b. 1951, Kittery, ME) is an American artist best known for his “maximalist” paintings of wildlife exotica — most famously birds, rabbits and butterflies. Drawing inspiration from the spiritual and natural worlds, Slonem repeats these motifs on an epic scale in an act of visual and artistic mantra. Rendered through loose, gestural brushwork, his figures dissolve into rhythmic patterns at the edges of abstraction, creating symphonies of color, line and form across a highly textural canvas. His oeuvre’s meditative qualities are equally matched, by a “remarkable levity… a lightness of being” (Henry Geldzahler, Metropolitan Museum of Art 1996).

Slonem has also received critical acclaim for his restorations of national historic monuments, including Gilded Age mansions and Antebellum plantations, which the artist saves from neglect and fills with installations combining his work with collections of 19th century antiques.

Slonem has exhibited the world-over and has had over 350 shows, including 20 museum exhibitions. In Summer 2019 Slonem had a special exhibition with the National Museum of Art in Kiev and the Odessa Museum of Eastern and Western Art.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here.

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