Anne Sherwood Pundyk reviews Alan Shields: In Motion at The Parrish Art Museum, on view through January 19, 2015.
Pundyk writes: "The aspects of Shields’s work that may look dated are the same qualities that fuel its relevance. Look at any current political debate and you’ll find issues germane to his thinking: climate change, global food and fuel resources, gender equality, and especially freedom of expression. His frequent reference to nomadic dwellings, through the use of decoratively hemmed, loose canvas panels, suggests a mobility of individual thought and independence from the influence of the increasingly oligarchic institutions shaping our lives. His formal devices modifying traditional painting processes and materials, such as multicolored lines made with sewing machine stitching, still produce thrilling results. He composed using geometric shapes at contrasting scales with the casual confidence of a knife-thrower. At the Parrish, you’re left wondering how uplifting grandeur and grace can be produced from such humble materials and mundane manipulations. Most beautiful and mysterious is his use of color. The layers of seemingly casually spilled and washed color over his canvas and paper surfaces conjure sublime sunsets with breathtaking views of ocean and agrarian landscapes. The work of a parade of younger artists can be linked to Shields’s, including that of Jessica Stockholder and Jim Lambie, both of whom construct painting environments from intensely colored high and low materials."