Sometimes, the best stories do not go in a straight line. the elements gather in leaf pile fashion: a little red, some orange, a dash of green. slater’s paintings are like this, too.
more formally, they might be taking their cues from stained glass windows. (or even from mexican muralists.) the oversized panels are illustrative, rooted in autobiography, drawing from the stuff of slater’s dreams to cohesively express a central theme. and the simplest elements combine with the more complex to create geometry viewers must resolve.
the star is a recurring element, indicative of the shape of a man (and also the path of venus). mushrooms and a friend’s face also make appearances, but this is not a man afraid of research. the sandals in his “garden of eden” are not some anemic celebration of his hippy status or a nod to the beach lifestyle. they reference sandalphon, a figure in the kabbalah, thus connecting a divergent culture to this christian mythology. jolly roger on a pirate ship? you can take that at face value, but only because the artist didn’t. before including it in “the ghost ship” he followed its legend to its origins and knows exactly why it’s there.
the art is folksy, and somewhat narrative, but far from didactic. yet it stimulates us to synthesize our human experiences with our spiritual ones.
“there’s all these things that you don’t necessarily have to understand…there’s so much information it gets almost confusing to talk about.”
so what is it about? color. stories for us, the viewers, yes. but for the artist, it’s the pursuit of rendering life in hypercolor.
“i’m also posing puzzles—asking the question rather than giving an answer. these may be things you only see in the corner of your eye.”
“dream of the ghost ship”(top), “the garden of eden”(bottom)
photos: tom fitzgerald