In the crisp, bright vastness of the John Hancock Tower’s Blue Glass Cafe, viewing an exhibit by local artists filled with vibrant colors and bold shapes, the piece that completely drew me in was a dark and atmospheric painting called “Faegan’s Pub,” by Reading, MA artist Andrew Slezak. This interior scene of a seemingly quiet bar in Syracuse, New York, captures the contemplative spirit of dark little haunts with a rich and comforting play of diffuse light through glass, and the subtle texturing of surfaces gives it a palpable earthiness—not just a place for contemplation, but a place I could imagine reaching in to touch.
Slezak’s portfolio of mostly landscape and seascape images includes a small collection of figurative paintings, and I asked whether he prefers one over the other. “Landscape comes more naturally through my experimental process,” he said, “but I like the conversation that situating a figure in a setting can create. Both are important as far as my background goes, but landscape seems to be more the direction my current work is heading.”
Although Andrew Slezak’s work is more influenced by natural environments, he has received positive feedback about “Faegan’s Pub” and is inspired to paint a series of similarly atmospheric interior paintings. His many landscapes and seascapes are equally mesmerizing in their textural qualities, with a sense of lingering movement captured within them.
Slezak, whose mother is an art teacher and father is an architect with an undergraduate art major, enjoyed drawing and painting from an early age. Working mainly in acrylic and watercolor, he prefers to stay open to experimentation. I find the range of styles and mediums in Slezak’s work compelling, and can see a voice emerging among the images and moods, so I am as curious as he is to see where it will lead him.
“My current work has definitely had a more experimental direction. Dripping and spraying paint is a technique that I have been incorporating into my experimental pieces, and exploring limits with the paint is where I find a lot of the excitement and interest in my work,” says Slezak.
He has no particular direction in mind for his experimentation at the moment, but he is optimistic about figuring that out eventually. He has even done some experimentation with ArtRage 2.5, a computer program that “simulates actual painting with realistic feel for texture and brushstroke.”
“Working on large surfaces is the only constant when it comes to my process,” he says. With art and artistic experimentation as the main focus in his life right now, he is working and living at his studio in his parents’ Reading house until he goes to grad school in the fall.
While in Barcelona, Spain in the summer of 2009 as part of the Syracuse University abroad program, he took a drawing and glass making class. In the glass class, he learned to make mosaics and to fuse glass, and since then has made some glass mosaics including a commissioned piece.
It didn’t surprise me to find the same rhythmic movement and subtleties of light in his mosaics that is present in so many of his painted works. The medium lends itself naturally to this artist’s style, and I see it as a fine complement to his affinity for texture.
To see more of Andrew Slezak’s work, visit his artist website.