Allison Schulnik, Centaurette, 2017; cast bronze on unique stone base; Unique work from a series of eight 29″ H x 8″ x 20″ overall (19″ H x 20″ x 5″ bronze, attached to base 10″ H x 13″ x 8″)
San Diego Surreal reveals the ways in which Surrealism’s range of artistic strategies and visual vocabulary have seeped into our culture while probing the impact the movement has had on artists in San Diego County. Featuring over 50 works of art in a variety of media created over several decades, the exhibition focuses on the work of contemporary artists including Hugo Crosthwaite, Marianela de la Hoz, Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Charles Glaubitz, Jeff Irwin, Cliff McReynolds, Lynn Schuette, Allison Schulnik, Walter Sutin, Jen Trute, and Perry Vasquez, and also includes earlier 20th-century Modernists who drew upon Surrealism such as Dorr Bothwell, Ethel Greene, Harry Sternberg, and Jean Swiggett. Organized by guest curator Susan M. Anderson, San Diego Surreal goes beyond making overt comparisons between the work of the historical Surrealists and these artists, to explore broader more idiosyncratic connections.
Expanding on her language that traditionally highlights misfits, outcasts, and the misunderstood – Schulnik introduces a wild new cast of mythological creatures replete with centaurettes, unicorns, and otherworldly outsiders in various stages of liberation. Continuing her exploration of selfhood through diverse and rich allegories, her new subjects radiate gracefulness that is both vulnerable and stoic—a type of synthesis that is a hallmark in Schulnik’s work.
Not contented by cut and dry narratives that portray notions of empowerment, her characters are complex. Delving into the intricate web of sexuality, Schulnik takes a Henry Darger approach to Disney’s “Fantasia”- with centaurettes reimagining strength and femininity, as well as humanity. In order to create an honest portrait of contemporary liberation, she provides her mythic beings with fear, angst, sadness, and even weakness. Glorious unicorns of questionable gender are imbued with an aura of disheveled majesty — and a new type of hero emerges. Each protagonist is granted their individual physicality, strength, baggage, and personhood – as they also reflect the bewildering concepts of ego and identity. As fictional as these creatures may be, their personification of the untamed make us long for the best, unapologetic versions of our true selves.
The entire series of these extraordinary works can be viewed now on our ARTSY website at:
Born in 1978 (San Diego, CA), Schulnik earned her BFA in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia (CA). She has had solo exhibitions at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (CT), Laguna Art Museum (CA), Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OK), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (KS), ZieherSmith Gallery (NY), Rokeby Gallery (London), Unosunove Arte Contemporanea (Rome), and Division Gallery (Montreal). In addition to her inclusion in prestigious film festivals around the world, her films have garnered multiple awards, including Best Experimental Animation at Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2014. Her work has also been shown at the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture (Scotland), Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (Moscow), Hammer Museum (CA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), Santa Barbara Museum of Art (CA), San Diego Museum of Art (CA), Contemporary Arts Museum (LA), German Institute for Animated Film (Germany), Canada (NY), Lehman Maupin (NY), The Hole (NY), Acme (CA), and Hangar-7 (Salzburg), among many others. Allison Schulnik’s work is in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (KS), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (CA), Santa Barbara Art Museum (CA), Museé de Beaux Arts (Montreal), Farnsworth Art Museum (ME), Laguna Art Museum (CA), Montreal Contemporary Art Museum (Canada), Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (CT), and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Canada). The artist lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Check out the featured rave review on Allison Schulnik’s recent exhibition titled “Hoof” on ARTSY by Torey Akers at the following link:
I’ve always been memorized by Allison’s symbolic use of materials. her paintings and sculptures are just so expressive and are a vessel for something larger than life.
I totally agree. Schulnik’s strange, agitated paintings reflect her background in animation, but privilege the sculptural aspect of paint through their densely impastoed surfaces. Her gothic, figurative works, such as a bizarre and mesmeric still-life with flowers – a classic symbol of the fleetingness of life – suggest the more sinister and foreboding aspects of contemporary life.