Words and Images by Andrew Riggins
Ian Shults’s imagery harkens back to a distant era. Obscured by brilliant shading and contextual employment of negative space, his work illicits an under-the-influence mystique reminiscent of the swing, big band era. One feels a sense of dreamy decay; drawn into the painting’s subjects but repelled by the same fluctuating nature of the scene.
His work is currently on display in Austin, Texas at the Wally Workman Gallery. This is his 3rd show at the two-story art space, which is tucked into a row of commercial real estate that extends west of out of downtown. The opening, last Saturday, was a brilliant Austin day somewhere between Spring and Summer. It’s quite interesting when you consider that this seemingly reflective exhibition celebrates an artist’s interpretation of a party. “We’re in Wayne’s basement, only we’re not in Wayne’s basement. Isn’t that weird?” But in all seriousness, the energy of the evening complimented to art perfectly.
Shults’s previous work portrays subjects in overly provocative poses and positions. Their sexuality, temptation and taboo is emphasized by the seemingly chaotic brush strokes. For this body of work, Shults employs the same technique but in a dinner party with friends. Culled from hundreds of photographs, his final work attempts to secrete the internal nature of “wrongness” from within. The taboo nature of the work is preserved by the costumes and face masks donned by party participants. A mystique quickly emerges, the shading almost akin to an explosive analogy to the scene’s vibrancy. The quick strokes, upon close inspection, are carefully utilized and crafted, creating a whirlwind of action from a seemingly static scene. It is this technique that completes the painting. No background is needed as the lines that form the figures magnetize the eye, reducing the importance of any other artifact that might be missing from a “normal” portrait.
A great show by an artist IPaintMyMind is sure to keep tabs on, Ian Shults is a talent indeed.