NEW ORLEANS – Vitus Shell, Louisiana mixed-media painter and black creative brings an impactful voice to contemporary figurative painting in his solo exhibition Gold Standard at IBIS Contemporary Art Gallery, New Orleans.
Gold has been the metric for value in many societies throughout history. In this exhibition, black happiness and existence is used as the commodity. Using faux gold frames to mimic those of royalty and prestigious figures, the artist examines the present-day plight of black folks while showcasing the resilience and beauty of a people that continue to exist despite. The mixed-media paintings in the Gold Standard exhibition connect various ideas and imagery to bring humanity to people by reconnecting them to histories not always well documented. The collaged advertisements act as surreal environments that exist around the contemporary subjects in the paintings, although their effects aren’t always noticeable or easy to decipher. The wallpaper backdrop, filled with pages from Ebony, Essence, Life, and other magazines, allows the viewer to begin to discern the underlying interplay between environment and perception.
Shell has an impressive solo and group exhibition record, recent notables include Multiplicity: Blackness in Contemporary American Collage (traveling exhibition), Museum of Fine Art, Houston. Unthinkable Imagination: A Creative Response to the Juvenile Justice Crisis, Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA. Bout it Bout it: The Political Power of Just Being, (traveling exhibition) Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston Salem, NC. In addition, Shell has received numerous grants and residencies, including Crosstown Arts, Anderson Ranch, Bemis Center for the Contemporary Arts, Mass MoCA, Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans, Skowhegan School of Art, Tougaloo Art Colony, and Camille Hanks-Cosby Scholarship, and was named Louisianan Artist of the Year by Louisiana Life magazine for 2021.
Vitus Shell is a native of Monroe, Louisiana where he currently lives and works.