Coloring Intimacy

Light and colour are the mechanisms driving Ian Shatilla’s most recent body of art. While his painting technique frequently recalls or references artists such as Andy Warhol or Jeff Koons, these newest works are drenched in the modernity of the 19th century, calling to mind the palette and luminosity of a Monet or a Bonnard. Here, each of the canvasses is painted based on photographs taken by the artist and not, as in previous forays, images found on the Internet. As always, Shatilla provides the viewer with windows onto a reality that is both familiar and recognizable, but that inevitably gives way in a cascading narrative, like the ending of a story, image becoming painting, ultimatelychallenging our perception of what we know…

Shatilla is a storyteller. His new works expose intimate aspects of his character and successfully engage his own life story against the backdrop of our wider social reality. The heroes of his paintings are no longer famous newsmakers, such as Perez Hilton or Barack Obama, but rather, in the style of romantic portraiture, simple narrative figures. Shatilla is still seeking how best to situate his subjects in a heroic sense — are they heroes of life, or love? The still lifes are nostalgic portraits, wherein time itself is foregrounded to the point of becoming the subject. As for Shatilla’sreal life scenes, while they are full of beauty, we can never be certain whether we are witnessing them before or after the turning point. Are we in the universe of a new painting, or one we have already seen? As a painter, Ian Shatilla makes expert use of paintings’ narrative devices to tell us a story, the beginnings of which reside within himself, yet which always finishesby relating something of the world we all inhabit. These new works reflect on the dividing line between the intimate and the social — offering glimpses beyond romanticized reality, to the raw, tragic roots of his imagery.

Shatilla’s voice is gaining in maturity. His latest body of work, steeped in poetry, represents an abrupt departure from earlier output, and reveals a synthesis of his several artistic preoccupations: perception, image and theatricality.