Maze, 1981 - 1982

Basel 2016
Van Doren Waxter
acrylic and thread on canvas, cotton belting, velcro, aluminum pipe
221.0 x 556.3 x 556.3 (cm)
87.0 x 219.0 x 219.0 (inch)
Maze (1981/82) is the largest and most ambitious work of Alan Shields, a post-Minimalist artist who was immersed in the New York scene beginning in the 1960s and 70s. This interactive installation integrates his interest in painting, sculpture, and performance into a dynamic whole. Elements and motifs from his canvases and hanging grids resonate within Maze. Large, bright swathes of mottled color punctuated with multi-colored dots, triangles, and stripes are strung together on an armature of painted poles that guide the viewer through an interior of painted canvas walls and webs of cotton belting. Simultaneously opaque and transparent, some portions of the labyrinth are obscured and others revealed, presenting a new perspective with each turn and creating a fully immersive viewing experience. In a documentary film from 1986, Shields discusses the conception and construction-shields of the piece: ‘If you walk around inside of it, you’ll see that there are a lot of different canvases, again, you’ll see that I use partially my theater background, and partially the painting aspect, but it’s like a stage set. When you get inside of it, you’ve got a ceiling overhead, you’ve got walls, corridors, intersections, changes of direction, all directed by a type of architecture within architecture.’