Van Doren Waxter is pleased to present a special group exhibition featuring the work of American artist Alan Shields (1944 – 2005) in conversation with contemporary artists. Alan Shields Project is on view from January 5 through February 24, 2018 at the gallery’s 195 Chrystie Street location and features the work of Lisa Alvarado, Cheryl Donegan, Aiko Hachisuka, Channing Hansen, Naotaka Hiro, Alan Shields, Martha Tuttle, and B. Wurtz. The show continues a series of project exhibitions—which has included the Moira Dryer Project—that features a dialogue between a singular historical artist and living artists whose formal and conceptual affinities underscore the pertinence of the titular artist in focus. Alan Shields Project will include unique works on paper, editioned multiples, un-stretched canvases, and wearable art by Shields alongside recent work by Alvarado, Donegan, Hachisuka, Hansen, Hiro, Tuttle and Wurtz. Recent exhibitions focused on the work of Alan Shields have included Alan Shields: Protracted Simplicity, a survey accompanied by a chronological monograph by Heidi Zuckerman at the Aspen Art Museum; Alan Shields: A Different Kind of Painting at Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design; Alan Shields: Common Threads at Parrish Art Museum; and Into the Maze at SITE Santa Fe, among others.
The show highlights Alan Shields’ idiosyncratic practice, which featured unconventional materials and unusual presentation formats, along with a proclivity for saturated colors and optical richness. Shields’ signature format of a color-drenched field inscribed by stitching and sewing is represented in the exhibition by an important early work titled Sandbar 12, from 1969. In this work, as well as others in the show, a primary structure is deconstructed and made personal to express a playfully visionary impulse. Shields worked comfortably in a range of material approaches and mediums, and his omnivorous eye and deliberate touch encompassed works and techniques that included unique paper pieces and canvases, editioned works, and jewelry (which Shields described as “wearable art”), all of which are featured in this exhibition. This expansive approach and inquisitive spirit resonate in the practices of the contemporary artists on view. Alvarado, Donegan, Hachisuka, Hiro, Hansen, Tuttle and Wurtz each offer discrete challenges to accepted subjects and approaches in modern painting: the nonreferentiality of abstract art, the relationships of artist to model and of artwork to viewer, and the conventional roles of the gestural painter.