You have entered the world of the most prolific American Artist Shanoor, the Neo-Symbolic Expressionist.
Shanoor has always sought to take a stand on the events of our time. From his earlier endeavors to help AIDS victims and those fighting breast cancer to his visual meditation on freedom, he has felt compelled to use his diverse talents to express his conviction in a way that both informs and inspires.
His work springs from a passionate commitment to freedom, individuality and creativity. He has originated a unique aesthetic language, through his color palette and graphic images. His paintings speak to issues that touch all humanity. Joy, grief, hope, unity, strength, love of family and country; these are the emotions Shanoor challenges the viewer to see them reinvigorated and anew.
When Jasper Johns’ Flag paintings were first exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in1958, the art world immediately seized upon the inherent irony: Symbol as object. Johns’ reduction par excellence of an American icon – something so familiar it was often invisible – turned into a life-sized artwork. Recast the boundaries of image-making, and blew apart the notion of “representation.” These paintings, morphed into dozens of variations were, however, hardly a “patriot act.” Rather, their duty was to literal, underlying structure – and they helped launch a generation of artists intent upon further reductions, giving rise to Minimalism in the decade that followed.
The times were different, of course. Then, we only feared nuclear Armageddon, burying ourselves in school fallout shelters only to return to classes, 15 minutes later to continue with our finger paintings. Did we ever think that pushing paint around could change the world? That’s the essential question Armenian-born Chicago-based artist Shanoor (he resides in Northwest Indiana) poses with his red, white and blue ”Freedom Series” canvases. Like everyone else who lives in the United States, Shanoor’s roots are elsewhere, a sincere fact he uses to reinvent himself, particularly in this age of fear and loathing. But instead of ripping the earth, Shanoor mixes paint and applies it in a way that on his canvases hope will spring forth. The 55-five year old artist is calling for his own revolution, managing bits of Old Glory in a series of explosions – what he calls Extreme Art – as a way to plant and replant himself on the fertile ground he calls home.
Shanoor’s iconography employs the stars and bangles, the bands of color and repositions them in a succinct cascade of feeling. Understandably, September 11th changed his entire outlook on his adopted country. One must not forget the appeal America has long had for others seeking opportunity and the freedom to express their lives in new ways. The meaning imbued in the flag is prescient for this artist, and the variations of that experience, such as Fabric Of Our Life (2002) with its vibrating dreamlike presence, bear witness to an inner faith and an outward fascination with American realities. The canvas glows; it has motion, and in effect, is something of a heartbeat.
Reentry Fusion (2003) is perhaps the boldest of this series: A whirlpool of energy claims the American flag into a gyrating vortex. One is persuaded that the “melting pot” myth, a staple of the American Dream, is often both a violent and pleasurable process from which no one (not even those who visit America from abroad during a summer vacation) can escape. The majority of Shanoor’s recent acrylic works on canvas since 2001 reinvigorate the artist’s potent design sense (he runs DeVarj Design Agency with his wife, Silva). These high-end graphic talents permit him to literally stretch and bend the stars and stripes to a different set a meanings and at the same time, wrap himself in a new kind of flag. Unlike most people who bury themselves in Old Glory for political reasons, Shanoor’s point is multi-culturalism, pluralism, e pluribus unum. His interest is the promise, not the premise of America.
Many artists have re-hung flags, or reconstituted them in an effort to push away the concept of nation and replace it with a concept of world. French artist, Jean-Pierre Raynaud purchases flags and simply restates them as objects, stretching them onto frames. The Italian artist, Alighiero e Boetti (1940-1994) embroidered cloth into a world map tapestry, (Mappa del Mondo, 1978), with each country represented by the sign of its flag, a statement of geography and power. With the reunification of Germany, the changing boundaries in The Middle East and elsewhere, his “mappa” has since become something of a time capsule, an ode to global power flux.
Shanoor realizes a vastly different vision. “Using flag iconography is a way to manage the hidden, oblique side of life,” he says, “and to recreate a language of tolerance and understanding.” The artist was greatly changed, (as we all were) at the carnage and malice the world experienced nearly three years ago. Fear was rampant, confusion was commonplace. Coming to America, he suggests, is a process that involves a continuous absorption of opposites, a dialectic of urgency. Shanoor’s is a terribly noble project, brought off with elan and clarity. Certainly, the artist has the volition to remake his American experience in paint and canvas one of power and joy and yes, beauty, and place fear where it belongs: In the hearts of those who remain steadfastly willfully ignorant.
Fear & Painting in America
Featured Art You Will
"Two Stars" Acrylic Painting '02
"Witness 911" Acrylic Painting '04
"Blue Lib" Acrylic Painting '03
"ToTo Starburst" Photo Illugraphy '04
Strings of Soul" Photo Illugraphy '03
"Insti Light" Photo Illugraphy '03
"Reentry Fusion," Acrylic on Canvas, 2003
"Fabric of Our Life," Acrylic on Canvas, 2002
By Matthew Rose - Artist & Writer based in Paris
(The below article by Matthew Rose is featured inside the above publication SHANOOR's 2004 - EXTREME CONDITION "Vision on the Art Extreme.")