Contemporary artists we're loving

Allison Schulnik

contemporary artists - Allison Schulnik
Allison Schulnik

It's several years since New York-based US artist Allison Schulnik was first tipped for major success, but even if her name isn't exactly a household one yet, interest in her work is greater than ever.

Her thickly impastoed canvases, the paint applied with worn brushes or straight from the tube, ooze (almost literally) with energy and presence.

Combining the grotesque with the sentimental, Schulnik has said of her work that "I allow my imagination to revel in its own world - where thickly-sculpted oils, earthly fact and blatant fiction collide to form images of tragedy, farce and raw beauty."

'Raw seems an apt enough description of her London School-like technique, but while 'beauty' is an adjective that may not spring immediately to mind, her work and its themes reveal their own improbable charm.

Recurrent motifs - clowns, down and outs and animals both cute and fearsome - resonate with a certain clunky pathos. In a nod to the vulnerability of her misshapen cast, gloopy bouquets are sometimes painted as gifts in their honour.

And those daubs of pigment, while apparently chaotic, are more finely controlled than might at first appear, as evidenced in particular by Schulnik's recent series of monkey portraits (below).

Allison SchulnikAllison Schulnik - emerging contemporary art (detail)

It's not just painting that Schulnik marks with her own, distinctive style. A graduate in animation studies from CalArts, she also produces acclaimed short movies featuring the characters and flower-strewn settings she often depicts in her paintings. She's a dab hand, too, at ceramics, a perfect complement to the tactile, encrusted surfaces of her canvases.

From boho hobos to leering simians, there's a fearlessness and immediacy to Schulnik's work that's hard not to love.

Allison SchulnikAllison Schulnik - emerging contemporary art (detail)

All images © Allison Schulnik

more artist profiles: Sara Ramo | Oskar Dawicki | Joana Vasconcelos | Nora Schultz | Nicholas Hlobo | Tillman Kaiser

related articles: emerging artists >

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