The focus of the exhibition, the fourth solo show the gallery has presented for the artist since 2011, will be a highly-dynamic installation and viewing experience in the gallery’s upper east side townhouse of the earliest prints made by Shields at Jones Road Press and Stable, along with works made at Tyler Graphics Ltd.
Shields’s approach to printmaking mirrored his achievement in painting, which was to upend the conventions of the medium. Rather than executing a single conventional technique such as etching or lithography on paper, he considered paper as a medium that was as important as his treatment of it. Shields’s use of handmade paper opened up new opportunities in format allowing him to layer, dye, stitch and make three-dimensional forms. Many mediums were incorporated into the whole: lithograph, serigraph, flocking, collage, embossing and relief printing. His experimental approach to printmaking was anything goes, including mistakes that were incorporated into the process of producing these new and early prints, most of which were made in small editions.
What is most evident in this body of work is the artist’s pleasure in art making. He draws the viewer to the work through what he called the ‘traces of hand’. Looking at Kool Set begs the question of how the artist so skillfully engineered this three-dimensional hanging grid. In other works such as Dorothy Jean (named for his sister) rendered to mimic a farm gate or the stitched and layered Two Four Too redolent of a quilt, both of which are double-sided, Shields demonstrates an exuberance of texture and color that elicits joyful admiration.
The works in the exhibition will be displayed unframed using wall magnets to create a multi-dimensional viewing experience. Those prints that are double-sided will be suspended from the ceiling in plexibox frames inviting the viewer to activate the space in and around the works themselves.
Van Doren Waxter presented works by Alan Shields in a recent 2018 group exhibition, Alan Shields Project, featuring the work of Lisa Alvarado, Cheryl Donegan, Aiko Hachisuka, Channing Hansen, Naotaka Hiro, Alan Shields, Martha Tuttle, and B. Wurtz.