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Wardell Milan: Parisian Landscapes, Blue in Green

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present the first West Coast exhibition of New York-based artist Wardell Milan, on view from January 3 to February 16, 2019. A reception for the artist will be held from 1-4pm on Saturday, January 5.

Incorporating drawing, painting, photography and collage, Milan’s Parisian Landscapes: Blue in Green 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. Milan’s 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 Milan’s long-running obsession with the flower’s form and layered symbolism.

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 photographs of the Storyville district of New Orleans.

Wardell Milan (b. 1977, Knoxville, Tennessee) studied photography and painting at the University of Tennessee and Yale University. His works are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Denver Art Museum; Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; UBS Art Collection; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Milan’s work was the subject of the 2015 monograph between late summer and early fall, edited by Cay Sophie Rabinowitz and published by Osmos Books.