Stuart Shils: Painting by Other Means

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David Cohen considers the photographic works of painter Stuart Shils in an essay for the exhibition Stuart Shils: because i have no interest in those questions… at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York, on view through December 21, 2014.

Cohen writes: "Stuart Shils is a painter. His very being has come to be filtered through the act, substance, and legacies of paint. The place of photography in his life is a case in point. That he photographs with acumen and passion, relishing what are for him new expressive possibilities, is borne out by this publication and its related show, but his photography is, as Clausewitz might have put it, the continuation of painting by other means… He is a bit like those resolutely abstract painters whose photography is less the scouting for source material than it is the registering of equivalents of their form-vocabulary in the observed environment. I’m thinking of artists like Ellsworth Kelly, Sean Scully and Joe Fyfe. Except Shils is not quite (perhaps indeed is hardly at all) an abstract painter. His painting is always rooted in observation and experience of actual places, however generalized the sensation of looking may feel in his pared down evocations."

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