Winsome, humorous, frolicking beasts and birds are the subject of Chica Brunsvold’s Zooillogicals®. This series of recent paintings celebrates a peaceable kingdom where elephant and ostrich, big cat and alligator live in remarkable contentment. Brunsvold’s painted world exists both as a fantasy equally appealing to children and adults, and as a pictorial experience of moving forms and vivid color.
Chica Brunsvold’s creatures are a gregariously social lot, living cheek by jowl, as if too much distance would leave them bereft and lonely. So they gather in great conglomerates of species, playfully intertwining and perching one upon the other. Notions of territoriality and of as nature as “red in tooth and claw” are banished from this ideal place. The cooperation and altruism that socio-biologists see at work in the animal world are the rule. The creatures’ sole intent seems to be creating the maximum visual pleasure their communal display can provide.
Painted with an exuberant directness, Brunsvold’s animals do nature one better by assuming new, fantastic colorations. The light blue possum, the violet dinosaur, the crimson cat seem perfectly plausible here. And birds of a myriad of species, known and unknown, flock together in a riot of hues. Bold, graphic representations mingle with more delicate jewel-toned subjects. There is a strong emphasis on rhythmic movement of the animals curvilinear forms, giving the paintings a buoyant, joyous quality.
Dense menageries in aqua, magenta, hot pink and orange pile us against solid backgrounds of deep blue and black. We have arrived in an abstract, non-specific space, where the vagaries of weather and the passage of time hold no sway. The animal Eden depicted here reminds us that behind every fantasy is an unspoken desire. Implied in the world made visible here seems to be the hope for a harmony that these animals’ human counterparts can only envy.
- John Mendelsohn