Appropriating the aesthetic of John James Audubon, Kevin Sloan explores the poetic dimensions of nature using a representational, scientific style. His images of the natural world feature intricately rendered birds that evoke Audubon’s realist approach and taxonomic faithfulness. Yet Sloan, aware that photography has supplanted the need for such realistic paintings, incorporates surrealist and vanitas elements into his work. “Freed from the need to describe for science, I can describe the natural world and our interaction with it through an allegorical, social, and political lens,” he has said. For example, in Sloan’s paintings, a bird may clutch a timepiece or poke its head out from a vanitas-style arrangement of fruit. Subtly allegorical, his work probes the relationship between humans, animals, and nature in the contemporary world.
“Creating visual stories by the use of allegory allows me to point at something in the world without screaming about it. I don’t feel like my visual language has given me more insight into the human condition but it definitely lets me describe the world as I experience it. My intention when using allegorical imagery is to open up possibilities of seeing the world through a different lens. My deep concern for the natural world and our part in supporting or denigrating it is expressed in a more poetic/allegorical way. My hope is this allows for a softer introduction into the idea at hand. No one likes to be screamed at, and likewise, I don’t want my art to scream at the viewer. Allegorical imagery is a way for me to invite the viewer in gently and if they let themselves, go to a deeper level where the more challenging story is being told. To paraphrase the poet Robert Frost – I believe a painting should begin in delight and end in wisdom.” – Kevin Sloan (Platinum Cheese)