The Canadian Jewish News, May 3, 2001


Artist exhibition:
Not a Still Life

Erik Slutsky dances with the picture plane at the SBC's Espace Trois, May 3-31.
[Heather Solomon photo]

"light heartedness" of his version of perspective. His picture planes dance with the eye as he tilts toward the viewer and places shapes in disequilibrium. In one work, he's used the back of one of his own canvases as a prop. He balances it on one comer, behind a table ready to take off like a mad deride.

Instead of giving it to them straight, there's a question of what's going on that the viewer wants answered. It makes them look a little harder," he points out. He credits his style to the influence of Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and other masters who showed him the way to 'do things that are not what they seem to be" in the sense of taking the mundane and electrifying it.

Then there are just technical delights of an artist with 30 years' experience: the ease with which he paints the roundness of a grapefruit or a glass from his collection of bottles and vases.

The human form is more of an improvisation. He doesn't hesitate, though, to enlist the modelling services of his wife of 24 years to pose as his own reclining Odalisque. His 17-year-old son and 12-year-Old daughter are captured more spontaneously, as in candid moments with friends.

Slutsky is generous in the sharing of his techniques with his students. His own art education was acquired over the course of his already active career, like his stint with the Art Students League in New York and a BFA from Concordia University.

Slutsky's paintings are in such corporate and public collections as the Musée du Québec, the Avmor Collection, the Dresdner Bank in Munich and the Teleglobe Canada Collection. As an adjunct to his SBC exhibition, appropriately titled Not a Still Life, the artist will deliver a slide lecture May 10 at p.m. at the SBC.

By Heather Solomon

MONTREAL - Erik Slutsky is back and better than ever. The Montreal artist never really left, but was sidetracked by academia. When the art market recession of the '90s took a bite Out of his exhibition schedule, he went back to university at McGill for a Master's degree in art education.

Thereafter, teaching choked off the studio time, which he regards as his life's blood. It was only a matter of time before he'd again answer the lure of the colours on his palette, waiting for dispersion on an unexplored canvas. That time came three years ago when he dropped all other teaching commitments to take a position as a painting instructor at this Saidye Bronfman Centre School of Fine Arts (SBC).

The school's demands are only two days a week, leaving him ample time to create his most vibrant paintings to date. Until May 31, about 15 oils, most measuring a vivid 30 by 36 inches, are on show at Espace Tropis, the downstairs gallery devoted to exhibiting work by the Centre's teachers.

Each image combines the imaginary with reality as well as with memories. Some of the memories are of the two years Slutsky lived in France, overlooking the same sites in Aix-en-Provence painted by Cezanne, one of his idols.

In one canvas, Slutsky envisions France outside the window of his Snowdon duplex which serves as the setting for a number of his compositions. Incise vignette, a farmer tills his rows of grapevines.

In the painted room, tables, stools, couches, bookcases, and balconies are borrowed from his real world but appear in whatever colour and pattern he deems harmonic to the composition. These are the paintings of an artist who loves visual challenges.

"I think the artist can create a harmony within the artwork that's better than the world in which they live," he says. "Then people who look at it feel better after they've spent some time with the painting."

Slutsky enjoys involving the viewer in what he calls the