Sultan's paintings have a loaded iconography: the still lifes, for example, deal with erotic bulbous forms as well as the potential for dealth implied in an artificially engineered environment. Almost all the landscapes he calls "events" are about disasters. They warn of the toxic poison floating in the haze of our ignorance of what creates chaos and breakdown in postindustrial civilization. A fuller reading of Sultan's iconography--and one wonders why it hasn't been undertaken, since that iconography is so richly provocative and relevant--would focus on the slippage between subject matter, content and form that takes place in a work of fine art created within the context of mass culture. To deal with these problems without becoming a symptom of them is not the least of the accomplishments of an artist who could well quote Andre Gide's advice to his critics: "Do not understand me too quickly."
Reprinted with permission from Sultan: An Interview with Donald Sultan by Barbara Rose. Please visit the Selected Books section to find the complete text of this article.