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Elizabeth Slipek's penchant for all things beautiful brings a retrospective of her work to vivid life.

True Colors


As soon as objects were able to retrieve their cautionary roles from religious symbolic traditions in art, they assumed a sensuous, opulent joy of being. The pure aesthetic experience of things was introduced by Baroque artists, but most flamboyantly intensified by the Post Impressionists. Objects, textiles, exotic fruits and flowers from around the world asserted themselves onto tabletops and mantels in Everyman's home and influenced conversations toward the acquisition of visual stimulation and contentment. Elizabeth Holden Slipek's paintings continue that subject of discussion.

Primarily concentrating on still lifes and interiors with a few landscapes, Slipek paints the places of her life with a perfect sense of color. She is a lover of beautiful things and overlays pattern on top of pattern in developing their placement. Her style of representation, while not unexampled, has nonetheless grown to be her own. And in this retrospective of her work at the Eric Schindler Gallery, one can see how constant she is to it and how the works earnestness is made clear through this.

Slipek does not ask us to believe what she does not know to be reliable. At 79, she is depicting things that can be trusted, enjoyed and remembered. If she describes the houses across the street as having orange, red and yellow checkered walls, well it is a simple, matter of pure faith in sunlight.

If she tells us that the dining table is about to reach out like a pink tongue and lap us into the room, that is just by way of making an extra place for an unexpected guest. Slipek paints wild good manners. So, if she renders Princess Diana, smiling coyly with sharp teeth from a relinquished copy of Time magazine that rests on the seat of a Windsor chair, is it a pun, a psychologically orchestrated scene, or just a moment that composed itself inadvertently that day when the sun was coming in the glass door and brightening a vase of cut flowers?

Some artists organize their scenes to occur within a picture plane, offering an empty ground, or at least a table skirt, between the viewer and the view to suggest elsewhere-ness. Slipek is one who prefers to bring everything the painting owns right up to the foreground, giving it a present tense. Flower pots, containers with pens and paintbrushes, and boxes rise up from some undetermined depth beneath the bottom ledge of the painting. This is something of a compositional anomaly for still life. The lower halves of figures, trees and animals have been framed out since the Renaissance for the impact of proximity and for portraiture. But if there was a vessel or container in the picture, one generally saw it as a comprehensive form. In the 20th century, perhaps because the camera trained us to experiment with the framing, this was less an exception. However, Slipek has us peering over the top halves of things regularly like voyeurs as we gaze into her compositions. It's part of her style, and it offers the opportunity for just a little bit more clutter.

It was not until she was in her 60s that Slipek really began to devote herself to painting. While there are a few small paintings in her Schindler Gallery show from earlier times, this body of work largely encompasses the last 10 years. She is an inspiration for the joyousness of her imagination, her energy, and her attitude. Her colors must keep her

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