"Between 1984 and 1990, Sultan started painting catastrophic events that he saw in the newspapers. Particularly those types of events that are of an unseen nature, wreaking havoc with a whimper and not a bang. Sultan says, 'The destruction depicted in them was mostly caused by unknowable or unseeable things. You don’t see the actual executioner; like shelling from artilleries 100 miles away. The destruction of the earth by oil rigs and refineries. And the poisoning of the waters. So you don’t see the direct result of the event but the fall out from the carrying of the wind.'"

 

"Sultan’s disaster paintings thematically differ quite a bit from the still-life paintings of flowers and fruit that he would later become known for. The disaster paintings are dark, foreboding, and almost apocalyptic, while his still-lives are exercises in beauty and an abstracted serenity. That being said, the disaster paintings still highlight an important development in Sultan’s uncommon technique. They were the paintings that saw him introduce industrial materials to his art making, such as spreading tar over 12-inch floor tile-covered masonite. The paintings that result from his technique are textured, heavy, and dense. The disaster paintings are also abstractions, and Sultan has maintained his interest in abstraction in his work today. “I don’t want [my paintings’ subject matter] to be seen as a just a button,” says Sultan. “So they have to be read as not a button or a flower but something abstracted from which you can derive meaning."

 

"Sultan, now in his mid-60s, is as vital now as he was during the 1980s when he found himself named amongst the other “art stars” of the time: Basquiat, Haring, Schnabel, Fischl, Salle, and others. Unlike some of his 1980s contemporaries, Sultan doesn’t fall into any of the trappings of the 'difficult artist' cliché."   

 

––Adam Lehre, Art critic. Forbes Magazine ; August 2016

SERGE SOROKKO GALLERY     345 SUTTER STREET     SAN FRANCISCO     CALIFORNIA     94108     415.421.7770

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