Tom Palmore’s hyper-real renderings of animals in oil and acrylic on canvas offer a unique juxtaposition of technical literalism and surreal or magically real, imaginative context. Alongside his masterful technique also lies an honoring of the personalities of the animals in his portraits, humanizing them with dignity, and wit.

LewAllen Galleries presents an exhibition of paintings by Palmore entitled, Big Cats, Birds, and a Couple of Dogs, which opens Friday, August 25, 2023 and remains on view through September 23, 2023. An artist reception will be held at the gallery Friday, August 25, from 5 – 7 p.m.

For more than 45 years, Palmore has painted captivating portraits of animals that blend the provocative and the surreal through characteristic sophisticated humor and exquisite detail. Painted with incredible, ultra- fine brushwork, his tigers, penguins, horses, dogs, and other creatures seem to pause from their daily lives to act as models, posed theatrically in front of a variety of natural and theater-like backdrops.

Palmore’s masterful works use a variety of methods of painting he has developed over time. He mixes acrylic paint into gesso for the base layer, under paints with acrylic, showing the direction of hair for example, and then adds the detail work with oil paint.

Big Cats, Birds, and a Couple of Dogs goes beyond representing animals in a purely whimsical way. The works in this exhibition show majestic animals in natural settings, many of which remind viewers of the importance of the natural landscapes that are in peril for these creatures.

The handsome gaze of a White Bengal Tiger in Indian Princess or the curious stare of Magellanic Penguins in Love at First Sight reminds us of the importance of environmental preservation for these majestic creatures. Invoking various points of reference across history, art, and ecology, Palmore’s art blurs the boundaries between photorealism and the surreal, art and artifice, human and animal. Palmore invites us to view each of his subjects as individuals with discernable personalities rather than as anonymous creatures. Palmore reminds his audience to regard these remarkable beings as partners alongside their human counterparts.

Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Tom Palmore was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia in the late 1960s. His work appears in numerous corporate collections and in public collections including the Smithsonian Institution, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.