Robin Williams on Sylvia Sleigh

Sylvia Sleigh, Annunciation: Paul Rosano, 1975, oil on canvas, 90 x 52 inches
Sylvia Sleigh, Annunciation: Paul Rosano, 1975, oil on canvas, 90 x 52 inches

Painter Robin Williams reflects on Sylvia Sleigh's Annunciation: Paul Rosano (1975). 

Williams notes: "I was first struck by [Sleigh's] somewhat naive approach to painting. She fixated on details, roving over a scene telescopically, describing textiles, hair follicles, or flower peddles with equal intensity. Surfaces seemed fetishized or eroticized, but playfully so. Perspectives were sometimes skewed or slightly flattened, revealing her desire to focus on parts rather than the whole. I noticed how this “naive” perspective, instead of invalidating the work, lent it a tranquil sense of painterly equanimity. Her pieces seemed indifferent to the visual hierarchy that defines space, distance, or remove. Sleigh’s eyes were an equalizing force and connected her with her subjects in a way that felt personal and political. In Annunciation, she observed the overflowing garden, the character of specific types of body hair and the minute flecks of light that unified the day. Each represented element seemed to be made from the same molecular makeup, striving to exist on the same plane."