Following his spring show of abstracts, Kinesics, Scott Hunter’s exhibit of figurative paintings I Love You This Much, at The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, examines the varied metrics of love. Hunter’s statement, at the entryway to this basement gallery, observes that “we seek to quantify love and find its limit in order to better understand it, so as to improve our chances of making it last.” Time is just one of the parameters employed in interpreting these paintings and measuring how much the subjects love.
The impact of time can be felt in his smaller paintings through the faded, photographic quality of the people, surroundings and (inexplicably) ever-present mustard hue of the late 1960s and ’70s. These subjects are full of warmth and complete memories. They have a genuine connection to the world of the painting. The tiny canvas “Tijuana” features an old woman who, having reached the end of a parking lot, looks back at the viewer and smiles, knowingly, happy at her surprise inclusion in the shot. The presence of the huge bouquet of flowers, hanging above the heads of the ignorant crowd in the background, also fittingly indicates Tijuana’s vibrant personality. But for the overall cohesion of the composition, the subject herself is barely described. Yet the viewer gets the nostalgic feeling she knows Tijuana already.
The subjects in Hunter’s surreal large-scale works, meanwhile, are deeply saturated with color, full of emotion, and unaware of the scope of the moment. Each is interrupted by anachronistic elements you might find in a Magritte painting. The title work depicts a fur-clad young woman with a bland look on her face; a bug-eyed sculpture wearing a sign reading “I Love You This Much,” though with one of his demonstrative hands missing; and servants busily cleaning up, suggesting unseen actions from a few moments earlier. Meanwhile, the gargantuan colon suspended in a corner of the room implies that the young woman is gutless, and perhaps doesn’t love any of the others that much at all.
With his words and his art, Hunter proposes that biology isn’t enough: that time often displaces our sense of belonging. Humans seek to measure love spiritually somehow, with our heads, hearts and guts, and “with tongue in cheek.”