Sunday, August 15, 2010

Matthews at Arthur Roger, Slonem at Martine Chaisson

 
      Bunny Matthews' BLACK AND WHITE exhibition of paintings and drawings marks his first foray into the top echelon of the local gallery world, and if much of the work reflects what we have come to expect of his larger colored pencil and ink drawings, there are also some surprises. Most notably, his roughly 8 by 15 foot magnum opus, NIN'T WARDICA, below, conveys a vision of a Lower 9th Ward apocalypse that somehow melds Picasso's GUERNICA with his familiar VIC 'N NAT'LY cartoon characters that have long graced local newspapers as well as Leidenheimer bakery delivery trucks. And while the notion of a Pablo Picasso-Bunny Matthews hybrid might seem doomed from the outset, this mural-size extravaganza no only works but works amazingly well. Rendered in sepia acrylic on Tyvek, it melds the pathos of GUERNICA with the far funkier environs of the 9th Ward while commemorating the memory of the hundreds who died when the floodwalls collapsed. Many other drawings such as MY MUSE, above, are rendered in a breezier style even if the topics are not, for instance, a drug dealer extracting an eye from a user who fell behind on his debts. More elegiac subjects include a portrait of the late James Booker in a turban titled THE BAYOU MAHARAJAH, one of the maestro’s more grandiose monikers. All in all, it is a show that presents Matthews’ vision in a bold new light.   
 
       Also new is the elegant Martine Chaisson Gallery on Camp Street. Housed in an antique building that is a fine example of adaptive restoration, it’s walls hold a number of Hunt Slonem’s flamboyantly gestural paintings of birds, butterflies, rabbits and human exotica, sometimes arranged in a vintage salon style, perhaps a nod the two 19th century Louisiana plantation houses that he occupies when not working in his New York studio. The works themselves are representative of his oeuvre, and make for a dramatic premier of a striking new art space. ~Bookhardt
Bunny Matthews: BLACK AND WHITE        (Click Images to Expand)
August 7 - September 11
Arthur Roger @ 434, 434 Julia St. 522-1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com
Hunt Slonem: FANCIFUL FAUNA
August 7 - September 25, 2010
Martine Chaisson Gallery, 727 Camp St., 302-7942; www.martinechaissongallery.com