Opening:26 May, 2021
Donald Sultan is a painter, sculptor, and engraver known for his large-format works in which he uses industrial materials to represent everyday objects. In his usual iconography, flowers and fruits shaped in colorful still lifes on dark backgrounds stand out; the delicacy and elegance of the representations contrast with the materials he uses: tar, aluminum, enamel, or tiles on Masonite. The industrial elements generate several layers of depth with a feeling of low relief while offering a palpable reference to the taxation of the work. This interest is central to Sultan’s work, which explores the dichotomies of the natural and the artificial, softness and roughness, or figuration and abstraction.
For this exhibition, Sultan has created a new series of large-format works under the title of Mimosas. The first paintings in this series were made in 2019 and were inspired by a bouquet that a friend gave him in the south of France. The mimosa tree has fern-shaped leaves and flowers that assemble dandelions with their seeds. Donald Sultan began by drawing pictures of the mimosa flower and then explored this organic motif more abstractly.
This current work of the Mimosas offers a historical continuity from the New Image Painting movement line of the 70s and its later work. In this exhibition, we can also find the largest work made in the 90s that is part of the expressionist series “Smoke Rings” based on the representation of tobacco smoke rings. In the words of Donald Sultan:
“Painting has often been declared to be dead, and how many times has it shown us that it will never disappear? We call the classic movies ” old movies”, but we never call the masterpieces “old paintings”. Good painting is timeless “
Thus, his most recent work can be interpreted as an extension of the previous one; the organic elements represented are compressed in their most basic form in a form reduction investigation. The recurring motifs of still life such as fruits and flowers represented with everyday materials create a contradiction, a dichotomy, where the structure of the work of art is heavy, but at the same time, the images become light. In this lies the gaze of Donald Sultan, in the transformation and deconstruction of ordinary organic elements in an abstract expression that generates a material paradox as well as sensual.
Donald Sultan (1951, Asheville, United States) lives and works in New York and Sag Harbor, NY. He studied a Master of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1975 and has been exhibiting extensively in major international museums and galleries ever since. Sultan’s works are represented in prestigious public collections including the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, or the Guggenheim Museum in New York, among others.