‘Biography’ by David Slater at MM Fine Art in Southampton
Springs artist David Slater is back with another memorable exhibition at MM Fine Art in Southampton. Again, it remains quite clear that this man is among the East End’s greatest living artists, and yet somehow we keep seeing so many of his mixed media masterpieces again, evading the red ‘sold out’ labels year after year. after a year.
Now 83, Slater recently survived a bout with prostate cancer, and although he is currently in good health, the illness has inspired him to think more deeply about the inevitable, adding another layer to the paintings that chronicle many of his life’s stories.
It has been just over a year since Peter Marcel, his longtime exclusive agent and owner of MM Fine Arts, died at the age of 65. Now Marcel’s fiancée, Katherine McCormick, runs the show at the gallery, and continues to believe in Slater and his work. .
With an appropriate title the biographythe new show is the largest retrospective of Slater’s art to date and fills two rooms in the MM Gallery, with more storage space in the building.
Slater says of the exhibition: “This exhibition covers 70 years, and is an intimate look into his life, with pieces from the 1950s through 2022. Catherine has curated this entire show. She chose to work for this show. “She captured a lot more but commented less, and I’m glad she did,” he said, adding: “Hanging gives things room to breathe.”
In the past, Slater would choose which paintings to display in the exhibition, and Marcille would simply approve or disapprove, so it was a revealing moment when McCormick visited the artist’s studio to get a real look at the breadth of his creative output. Her selections include some of Slater’s greatest masterpieces, many of which we’ve seen before, along with a range of paintings on canvas and paper, and various sculptures made mostly using found objects collected over the past seven or eight decades.
All of his paintings feature dozens or even hundreds of scraps of paper and collaged objects that help tell the stories he wishes to convey on canvas. in the biographyLike most of Slater’s shows, the paintings offer a glimpse into the artist’s rich life story, along with his interests, obsessions, and dreams. The poster for each piece includes a paragraph that delves into the artist’s thoughts and motivations for it.
Sacred Collar (2020) is among the most striking works produced since Slater’s last exhibition in 2019. Using mostly primary colors—yellow, red, and blue—the painting links General George Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1890 with the year 1973 when Slater joined the protests at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. “We were preparing for battle,” he says, noting that he smoked a Holy Peace pipe as he prepared alongside members of the Weather Underground and the IRA as the Federals threatened them all with terrible violence.
One of the more recent paintings, “Lee and Igor,” from 2021, celebrates the beauty of famed Springs Abstract Expressionist painter (and Jackson Pollock’s wife) Lee Krasner sunbathing on a Provincetown, Massachusetts, beach with her lover Igor. “I was offended by the idea that Lee Krasner was ugly, because she looked like my ex-girlfriend,” Slater says, recalling a day he disagreed with a woman over the matter at Bullock-Krasner’s home in Springs, where he works. part time.
“Spirit World,” another painting from 2021, was formed after Slater’s cancer diagnosis. “When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to die. What do I think will happen after death?’” he says. “So I started thinking about the idea of heaven, but then I also turned it into the concept that Native Americans as well as the Theosophists have of the spirit world.” – That is, after death we are in the spirit world until the time comes when we either become incarnated or remain in it. Slater continues this and goes further. “So I started painting this painting of the spirit world.”
The composition is laden with mystical symbols, but also depicts a serene mountain landscape from a photo taken in Colorado. “I’m ready to go anytime. I’m not worried about death, because I don’t think this is the end of your time. Your car that’s been driving you, this body – finally the brakes work, the transmission goes, you get a new car. For me, that’s death.” “I think we’ll get through.”
No matter what happens to us after this life, we certainly cannot take our things with us, and Slater now holds a life’s work worthy of any museum in the world. A smart person might take this opportunity to go out and get some for themselves.
David Slater the biography It is on view at MM Fine Art, 4 North Main Street in Southampton Village, until Sunday, November 26. Call 631-259-2274 or visit mmfineart.com.