Pundyk writes: "The aspects of Shields’s work that may look dated are the same qualities that fuel its relevance. Look at any current political debate and you’ll find issues germane to his thinking: climate change, global food and fuel resources, gender equality, and especially freedom of expression. His frequent reference to nomadic dwellings, through the use of decoratively hemmed, loose canvas panels, suggests a mobility of individual thought and independence from the influence of the increasingly oligarchic institutions shaping our lives. His formal devices modifying traditional painting processes and materials, such as multicolored lines made with sewing machine stitching, still produce thrilling results. He composed using geometric shapes at contrasting scales with the casual confidence of a knife-thrower. At the Parrish, you’re left wondering how uplifting grandeur and grace can be produced from such humble materials and mundane manipulations. Most beautiful and mysterious is his use of color. The layers of seemingly casually spilled and washed color over his canvas and paper surfaces conjure sublime sunsets with breathtaking views of ocean and agrarian landscapes. The work of a parade of younger artists can be linked to Shields’s, including that of Jessica Stockholder and Jim Lambie, both of whom construct painting environments from intensely colored high and low materials."
Goreas writes: "Shields not only employed means that were traditionally female (sewing, weaving, beading), he pulled the canvas from the wall and then gave it a front, a back and an interior. He turned the structure of pictorial space on its ear and expanded the language of gesture by trading in the brushwork of Abstract Expressionism for decorative switchbacks drawn from the needle of an industrial sewing machine... The Shields avatar continues to influence the work of contemporary artists ranging from Jessica Stockholder to Jim Lambie to Lauren Luloff, and his aesthetic reach is one that crosses platforms, mediums and milieus."
Steven Alexander visits the exhibition Alan Shields, Something Goin' On & On on view at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York through June 24, 2011. Alexander writes that Shields' work is " ...deeply rooted in a ritualization of the painting process and an assertion of art-making as an ancient practice... the large paintings possess a rich merger of painterly field and constructed objecthood -- at once offhanded and painstakingly built."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.