He calls it “allegorical realism” – a type of storytelling that does not convey its message literally yet avoids slipping into the fantastic or the cartoonish. In the work of Kevin Sloan, a Denver, Colorado-based painter, we see everyday objects – globes, tea cups, candles, clocks, books, luggage – set in unusual arrangements alongside a profusion of animals and plants, whom he considers the “silent inhabitants” of this planet. At the core of Kevin’s creativity is an acute ecological consciousness, a deep concern and respect for our common home, which he expresses through luminous symbolism and subtle humour. The scenes he paints are pure and glorious hymns to the sheer gratuitousness of earth. They lovingly depict the manner in which nature lavishes itself upon us with its inexhaustible yields.
In his artist’s statement, Kevin mentions that he “seeks to create a compelling body of work that can speak about our modern technological environment and simultaneously present images of natural balance, odd, unexpected beauty and mystery.” The paintings always ask more questions than they present answers. They create a dialogue between the modern world we have created and the fragile, quiet, yet always present natural environment. Often lush, sometimes stark and theatrical, they aspire to start a conversation about our relationship with nature in this quickly changing era.
Kevin holds a BFA (from Temple University, Philadelphia) and an MFA (from the University of Arizona, Tucson) in painting. On his artistic journey, he says: “As a child I was always interested in making things – at that time it was mostly centered on crafts and the assembling of model cars, etc. As I moved closer to high school, I became very interested in the therapeutic value of art-making. I thought that drawing and painting could be a healthy way for me to spend time. A number of fairly traumatic events in my life at the age of fifteen created a need in me to find a place and activity that could be healing and safe – I turned to art. A few teachers at that time were extremely supportive and influential in my decision to continue into the field.”
He continues: “Over the years, I have found myself more drawn to people and places that share my belief that art can point to the transcendent in nature. In other words, I’m drawn to artists and places that allow for a truer experience of the natural world and of being alive, without irony or jadedness. An artist whom I particularly admire is Enrique Martinez Celaya. His work embodies those qualities and his writings expand the ideas proposed in his paintings and sculpture.
“My hope for the viewers of my work is that they would stop and rest for a minute. I try to create paintings that initially appear obvious and knowable but hopefully, with a little more time, questions arise and in that conversation between what is known and what is unfamiliar ‘Art’ happens. Art is an experience brought about by the interaction with an object – in my case, a painting. My aim is to create paintings that resonate with familiarity but, upon closer inspection, create mystery and poetry.”
Kevin believes that most artists assume (or must assume) the role of being “The Ones Who Point”. “Via our work,” he elaborates, “we have the opportunity to engage an individual – or perhaps even an entire culture and turn their gaze toward something forgotten, new, sublime or challenging. When we Point at something, we ask the viewer to look away from the routine and, for a moment, consider an alternative. I don’t believe art is a very good venue for big change in the world, however, I do believe that artists have a unique opportunity to re-frame the ways we tend to see things and this can be beneficial to those willing to take the time to look.”