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For her third exhibition at the gallery, Allison Schulnik focuses on oil paintings and goauches that embody her visionary ideas of enfranchisement. Schulnik’s otherworldly compositions begin as meditations or daydreams that are realized with bold applications of paint, including dense impasto that alternately conceals and reveals layers of detail.

Thematically, “Hoof II” expands upon her recent body of work featuring female protagonists, including unicorns, centaurettes, and felines as well as the dramatic “Lady,” a bewitching self-portrait. She states: "Whether they appear as animals, strange creatures or alien forms, these characters are often based on a human framework, instilling within them a humanity they retain regardless of feathers or fur or blemishes."

The artist is known for drawing from a variety of inspirations including the fantastical worlds of classic animation. Disregarding conventional associations (such as the purity of unicorns and centaurs symbolizing unbridled sexuality), Schulnik creates nuanced subjects with a rawness and messiness that only heightens their regality. They are at once virtuous and sensual, melancholy and ecstatic.

In her hands, conventional beauty becomes grotesque and more stunning, while apparent weaknesses transform to markers of strength. More generally, her work seeks to encourage empathy with the valor in one’s failings, hardships, and sacrifices, inevitable aspects of the human experience that could lead to despair or, as seen here, to emancipation. The artist notes “Today, it's too limiting to just see stoicism and heroism as sole markers of empowerment. Vulnerability could be the new stoic. Sadness is just as important as dignity.”

The artist is renowned for handmade claymation films, porcelain sculptures, gouache drawings and most especially for her “heavily impastoed paintings of vibrant, gone-to-seed floral bouquets that call to mind the comic-grotesque visionary James Ensor.” (Ken Johnson, The New York Times) “Schulnik squeezes out paint, playing with it in a comic and childlike affirmation of the transformative potential of colored goo. Piles of glossy pigment take on the quality of relief sculpture. Color is troweled on almost as a kind of protection…. But the exaggerated physicality of Schulnik's paintings also, curiously, lends them a sense of vulnerability, as if each form or character is saying, ‘I can't help what I am’." (Jennifer Coates, Time Out New York)

The LA area artist has exhibited internationally, including four solo museum shows, most recently at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford and well as group shows such as at the Albright-Knox, Buffalo, New York. Notable collections include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others.

Installation view: Allison Schulnik, Hoof II, ZieherSmith

Installation view: Allison Schulnik, Hoof II, ZieherSmith

Installation view: Allison Schulnik, Hoof II, ZieherSmith

Installation view: Allison Schulnik, Hoof II, ZieherSmith


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