2014, Sloan Fine Art, NYC
In “Cold Snap,” Brooklyn-based artist Jonathan Viner creates a wintery plane dotted with frozen groves and remote enclaves of civilization. His retro-styling and playful pop sensibilities counterbalance the cool palette and tense air of this polar vortex. Born in 1976, Viner mines the faded, analogue era of his early youth for resonant aesthetic cues. Guided by the design and ambience of this period, he utilizes a combination of live models, props, and photographs as starting points for his oil paintings. Gradually and non-linearly, Viner's precisely articulated environs and populace coalesce to form an enigmatic constellation of narrative works.
The largest painting in the show, “Cult Classic,” is set inside a spartan, glass paned room, where a romper-suited flower child peers out from behind a hypnotic book cover. In "Back at the Chateau," two lounging bikini women react to a disturbance emanating from somewhere outside of the composition. A man lying prone in the snow amidst an eager trio of dogs aims his rifle in "Northern Sport". In "Midnight Swim" an almost doll-like woman in spandex lies rigidly atop a fur pelt situated beside a glowing swimming pool. A cozy living room is the setting for the inquisitively titled "Again with the Horror Vacui?” where a dapper man holding a pair of canvases stands atop a sofa and gazes through a window. And finally, in "The Art of Diplomacy," a man sporting a Coogi sweater sits at a table set with tea service for two, however the other chair is empty, and an intimidating canine sits by his side.
Grateful for the vibrant, dynamic pluralism of contemporary art practice, Viner grew up with a deep respect for the tradition and craft of painting. As a teenager he lived in a suburb of Washington DC and frequented the National Gallery of Art, scrutinizing and studying many of his favorite masterpieces in person. His earliest influences were the Baroque Masters - Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio and Velasquez. Some of his later infatuations included Ingres, Degas, Manet and Sargent. Among painters of the 20th Century, Viner feels a connection to Balthus, Freud, Hockney and Sleigh, among many others.
Born in New York and raised up and down the Eastern Seaboard, Jonathan Viner earned his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to five solo exhibitions in New York and Philadelphia, his work has been included in numerous group exhibitions across the US, in Italy, in the Philippines, and in Japan.