Fresh!: New Paintings & Works on Paper by Suzanne Unrein
RARE Gallery is pleased to present Fresh!, Suzanne Unrein’s third one-person exhibition at the gallery. The artist’s new series of erotically charged yet intimately tender paintings and works on paper evokes a world where animals seem to co-exist peacefully with humans, human relationships appear to be idyllic, and peace and serenity ostensibly reign within a Garden of Eden-like environment.
Inspired by her collaborative project, Art of the Pride, with world-renowned Lion Whisperer Kevin Richardson to save the endangered African lion, Unrein wanted this series to reflect a peaceful if edgy world in which humans could frolic undisturbed among wild animals and live in harmony with them and with each other. The result was a fresh consideration of subject matter and color. While Unrein’s technique remains grounded in the exuberant approach of the Baroque and Rococo Masters, how Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Brueghel, Paul de Vos, and Jan van Kessel handled the Garden of Eden theme through application of vibrant colors and utilization of sensuous subject matter became a springboard for these contemporary works.
Unrein’s human subjects are based on photos she took of friends who agreed to pose for her in intimate situations. Although originally intrigued by the eroticism of the images, she came to realize that their serene intimacy was an equally important counterpoint when she committed them to paint. The introduction of animals to the compositions serves not only as a way to further the harmony of the tableau, but also as a Greek chorus to comment upon and clarify the human behavior being depicted. As in all of her paintings, the artist’s choice of topics allows her to explore the physical possibilities of paint as well as the mimetic relationship between its gestural and chromatic qualities and the chosen subject matter.
Born in Sacramento, California, Unrein received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida, Gainesville. With many solo and group shows throughout the US, she most recently participated in a two-person exhibition at bG Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. Unrein was recently awarded a fellowship from the Jentel Foundation for a residency in Banner, Wyoming, where she will be spending a month in March/April 2015 working on prints for an upcoming book. This spring her Art of the Pride series of paintings will be exhibited and sold to raise funds to support Kevin Richardson’s wildlife sanctuary in South Africa.