Several years ago I removed the cover on my wall furnace to clean out the dust that accumulated in the off season. In addition to covering the mechanism, the housing also covered a strip of wall. For the first time I saw a layer of wallpaper that had become hidden under the layers and decades of paint. Probably dating back to the 1920's, the pastel floral pattern was in muted shades of dove gray, dusty rose, and ecru. The thought of an entire room covered in English cabbage roses seemed oppressive, but the small sliver was mesmerizing.Donald Sultan's Mimosa Nov 20 2008
Graphite, conte and ink on paper
Likewise the floral drawings of Donald Sultan evoke an image that extends beyond the edge of the paper; with a few deft strokes he puts us in a forest of mimosa blossoms. His conceit of a cursive title, date, and initials that run up the edge of the image evokes a Japan through Western eyes aesthetic, and manages to pull it off without a hint of either irony or imperialism.
The larger trumpet images in the first room are so crowded on the page (and hung shoulder to shoulder) that the solid blotches of color virtually blast into the room. No wallflowers or shrinking violets here. There are small, sketchbook-sized images called wallflowers on display, and these are probably the least effective at foregrounding the artist's materials that is indicative of Sultan's best work.
Donald Sultan's Recent Works on Paper is on view at Greenfield Sacks Gallery at Bergamot Satation through May 2, 2009.