Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tom Snelgrove @ RARE

Tom Snelgrove is a fellow artist who participated in The Arctic Circle Residency program with me with fall.  I had the opportunity to visit Tom Snelgrove's exhibit at RARE Gallery. The exhibit, Beneath the Surface, is a group show featuring new works by Nicholas Hall, Zach Horn, Tom Snelgrove, and Daisuke Tsuchigahata. 

If you are not familiar with Tom's work - you should be. He is a painter, videographer and photographer.     

The gallery writes of his work:

Tom Snelgrove finds the inspiration for his work in the natural world - his starting point to examine what he refers to as the "natural unrestrained interconnectivity" between all creatures and objects. In marked contrast to their candy-colored, pristine surfaces, Snelgrove's oil paintings revel in this interconnectivity through surreal combinations of human and non-human, natural and man-made subject matter that generate sympathy as well as discomfort, and understanding mingled with awe.

The sleek surfaces of oil paint and intensely bright colors create a mythical world of imaginary creatures   in a natural world setting and enhance the use of surrealism. I was faintly reminded of 21st century Henri Rousseau. Let me say that Snelgrove's work is much more sophisticated than Rousseau and by no means would I consider Snelgrove a "naïve", but the creation of a dream-like setting is similar. Snelgrove hits the viewer with these surprises  with such subtleness that I am reminded of Rousseau. Rousseau, by the way, happens to be one of my favorite 20th century painters. Both Snelgrove and Rousseau force the viewer to step physically into a painting where one is transformed into another environment filled with themes dislocation and otherness, of inside and outside, of vision and body.

The more I looked at Snelgrove's work, the more things I saw because of Snelgrove's attention to detail. 
The things that I saw were very unusual and unexpected. 

For example, the spider in his painting, Anansi's Odyssey, 2013, was not your typical spider face. In fact, the head appears to be human. The surprise was both delightful and frightening. My only regret  about the show was that there were not more of Tom's work on display. I completely enjoyed spending time looking for unexpected imagery. I look forward to more of Tom Snelgrove's paintings. The exhibit, Beneath the Surface, is on display until Jan. 2; Rare Gallery is located RARE Gallery at 547 W 27 Street  in New York City. 

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