White Visitor #2, oil on canvas, 68″ x 84″, 2006 (detail)
White Visitor #2, oil on canvas, 68″ x 84″, 2006
Hobo with Bird, oil on canvas, 84″ x 68″, 2009
Big Monkey Head #2, oil on canvas, 60″ x 60″, 2009
Schulnik’s work spans multiple mediums, including animation, painting, drawing, sculpture, and pottery. She began her career as an artist in animation, hoping to break free from family tradition as both of her parents are painters. When asked which medium she favors working with the most, Schulnik admits to loving and hating them all equally, wavering mostly out of boredom. She holds her short attention span accountable for all of her “dabbling,” and somehow I can’t imagine the result being any more lovely.
The Funeral Party, oil on linen, 102″ x 132″, 2010
Two Monkeys, oil on canvas, 60″ x 72″, 2007 (detail)
Hobo Clown #2, oil on canvas, 84″ x 68″, 2008
Hobo Clown #2, oil on canvas, 84″ x 68″, 2008 (detail)
While Schulnik may not favor any one particular medium, it’s what she does with paint that really gets to me. She doesn’t paint what’s beautiful or what’s happy and she doesn’t paint in a “beautiful” or “happy” way either. Rather, she focuses on subjects that “embody a spirit of the macabre, a Shakespearian comedy/tragedy, death and farce. [Schulnik’s] subjects often stare back at the audience and study them as they are in turn studied.” Her application appears genuine and without pretense, hesitation or gloss.
When I look at her paintings (always on a computer screen), I imagine what it would be like to close my eyes, to reach out and touch with my index finger every perfectly placed, ugly glob of paint. I imagine sitting down on a park bench (or better yet, a seesaw) and chatting up one of her rejected clowns or abandoned hobos; I’ve never had a friend quite so colorfully scarred, but Allison Schulnik certainly makes it fun to pretend.