Chicago

Leslie Baum

Bodybuilder & Sportsman Gallery

Arguments in favor of zoos—that they preserve and provide opportunities for researching “at risk” species, compensate for diminishing natural habitats, and educate new generations about the diversity of life—always come up against what many consider their inherent cruelty as animal prisons in which every sentence is one of life. Leslie Baum’s recent oil paintings and watercolors take up the subject with a lissome touch, hinting at the tawdry underside of what appear to be bucolic scenes. Baum begins by taking photographs and sometimes making drawings on site, creating disembodied vignettes of animals and bits of landscape. She then shifts to watercolor, concentrating and clarifying motifs that often turn up in larger oil paintings. Baum is intrigued by zoos’ strange conflation of the natural and the contrived, their use of environments that might or might not be stimulating to their

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