Wardell Milan, Parisian Landscapes: Blue in Green
New York-based artist Wardell Milan’s collages often incorporate cut-out photographs from works by Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as Charles Hoff’s images of boxers in “The Fights”. He has been inspired by such varied sources and artists as Francis Bacon, Robert Gober, the films of Federico Fellini, bodybuilding magazines, the plays of Eugène Ionesco, and E.J. Bellocq’s portraits of female prostitutes in New Orleans.
Incorporating drawing, painting, photography and collage, Milan’s “Parisian Landscapes: Blue in Green”, on view at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, introduces the artist’s figurative works in a variety of media. In scenes of freedom and desire, conflict and violence, Milan situates fractured bodies in ambiguous spaces.
Often titled after songs, and using the color blue, Milan’s “Parisian Landscapes” reference sources as wide-ranging as Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and Maggie Nelson’s lyrical essay bluets. His blue also alludes to the historical use of lapis lazuli: from Egyptian tomb paintings to illuminated Renaissance manuscripts, as well as to the Taliban’s current control of lapis lazuli mines in Afghanistan. Other intensely hued works inspired by the 17th-century Dutch tulip craze reflect Wardell Milan’s long-running obsession with the flower’s form and layered symbolism.