• Donald Sultan, White Gun, March 18, 1982 d., 1982, graphite on vinyl over wood, 12 x 12".

    “Donald Sultan: The First Decade”

    Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati
    44 E. Sixth Street
    February 7–May 11

    Curated by Raphaela Platow

    The title of Donald Sultan’s White Gun, March 18, 1982 specifies the date of the painting’s creation, but it also questions the temporality of objects in industrial culture. When does one attend to a specific day in the life of a gun—at the time of its manufacture (if it is an antique), or at the instant of its firing? What happens to these temporalities when Sultan renders the gun in flat, emblematic stillness? Many of his early paintings—often made by coating linoleum panels in viscous tar—reference ephemeral subjects of modernity (a migrant workforce, a decaying factory, an extinguishing cigarette) in heraldic silhouettes. In reproductions, the subtle tactile properties of Sultan’s industrial media are lost, so this substantial exhibition of twenty-three major early works should be a revelation.