There’s a saying about artists that speaks to the fact that while they often grow up seeking to move away from home, they spend the rest of their lives paying homage to where they’re from. Such is the case with Donald Sultan, a favorite son of Asheville, Carolina, who has spent most of his career as a New York City based artist with a pervasive “tar heel” approach to his craft. In fact, one could say that Sultan is a Contemporary Artist whose use of tar, spackle and other industrial materials, has helped him “pave” his own road into the annals of art history.
Rising to fame as a New York artist during the Pop Art crazed 1970s, Donald Sultan remains an artist who can be difficult to subcategorize within the broad realm of Contemporary Art. While his works are still life, they are nonetheless abstract, and many of the artist’s large scale edgier works conjure a bit of Pop Art sensibility.
Donald Sultan’s industrial themed works are gripping. Using square linoleum floor tiles, tar, plaster and paint, Sultan’s rich textual works provide eerie insights into dimly lit worlds. Each work features a time-frozen setting with subjects that reveal themselves in glances, existing in the artist’s familiar tar soaked climate. Street lamps, pavement, iron girders, train tracks, bricks and stone facades emerge in powerful forms, as if chiseled by the artist. Sultan is a master of incorporating the negative space into the core of his subject.
In Donald Sultan’s self-described “artificial” and “natural” themed paintings and prints, the tar-colored blackness creates deep negative space that anchors his favorite subjects − lemons, poppies, dominoes, dice, buttons, wallflowers, roses – allowing each to take a turn at center stage.
While much focus is given to Donald Sultan’s process and clever use of negative space, of equal value are the artist’s forms, which have become synonymous with the Sultan’s style. Indeed, it’s a style that continues to gain favor with collectors worldwide. Visitors to Budapest’s art’otel, a “hip design hotel” located on the Danube River, opposite the Hungarian parliament, are treated to view any number of the almost 600 original works by Donald Sultan displayed throughout the hotel.
In Donald Sultan’s shape-driven world, colors are always a surprise. Lemons and eggs may appear in yellow, white or pitch black. Ovals are predominant in Sultan’s still life representations. Button holes, domino numbers, and poppy plant centers are typically knocked out, rendering most often in black or white. Yet, Sultan collectors are enamored as much by Sultan’s unique use of color. Organic tones of washed out yellow, red and orange and share space with more synthetic versions of aqua and a variety of blues and greens.
At Vertu Fine Art Gallery in Boca Raton, we’re pleased to own a number of impressive Donald Sultan prints, and we continue to seek others by this Contemporary Art master. If you’re a collector or a fan of Sultan, please stop on in for a visit. And of course, if you’re a Donald Sultan Collector seeking particular works, please contact us and we’ll be glad to be of assistance.
The works of Donald Sultan are included in a number of permanent collections in prestigious museums worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum , the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art − all located in New York City. Others include The Tate Gallery in London and the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.