Best known for his expressionist and abstract still life paintings that include pictures of flowers, stark contrasts of color and layout, as well as lemons and even playing cards is the famous painter Donald Sultan, born in 1951 in Asheville, North Carolina. However, unlike other artists who have created still life paintings with an abstract approach, Sultan’s work is widely regarded and so well-known because of the unique materials that he uses to create his large scale paintings.
Instead of traditional paints, Donald Sultan is instead using industrialized materials such as tar used on streets and roofs of buildings or material like spackle, enamel, and even vinyl and ceramic tiles that are all used together to create a unique and highly original piece of artwork. Interestingly, Donald Sultan was mostly exposed to the culture and lifestyle of Appalachian people at a very early age after having lived most of his life in the mountains of North Carolina. This allowed Sultan to later on in life start developing a portfolio of paintings of wild flowers like poppies or daisies, food, or even simple pleasures like a deck of cards.
Donald Sultan eventually went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving his Bachelors of Fine Arts and then going on to receive his Masters of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago. However, going into the 1970s and 1980s, Donald Sultan moved to New York City to establish himself as a noted artist. It is also where he began to utilize strange materials to create his original pieces of artwork.
His process normally consists of taking linoleum or Masonite slabs and layering them with tar, rubber, and other things until eventually Donald Sultan starts to strip away certain pieces of the layers in order to create pictures. While the pieces normally do have a general theme or still life drawing to them, a majority of his paintings are still within the realm of expressionism because of how he layers and strips away material to create silhouettes or uneven compositions.
Not only has Donald Sultan brought a fresh look to abstract painting through a unique painting method, but he is also an accomplished sculptor and printmaker, too. However, these works are normally traditional in that they don’t use industrial materials, but regular printing and sculpting materials. Regardless, Sultan has collaborated and worked with countless artists throughout his career on art books, collaborative sculptors, and even on paintings.
Currently, Donald Sultan is still painting and collaborating, bringing even more wonderful artwork that can be seen in exhibits and galleries all over the world. And just in 2010, Sultan was awarded the highly respectable North Carolina Award for his legacy and continuing career in abstract art.
Only a portion of our Donald Sultan screenprints are represented online. Please contact us if you are looking for something special. Read more about Donald Sultan’s work in our blog.