The History of Chaos Runs Wild in Andrew Schoultz’s “Age of Empire”

History may have a way of repeating itself, but in the mixed-media work of artist Andrew Schoultz, history is often more ouroboros than vicious cycle, more curio cabinet than encyclopedia.

Mixing charged imagery derived from a diverse array of histories and cultures, his dense work creates hybrid iconographies that obliquely, but potently, allude to issues of political power, globalization, and the environment. Often, Schoultz hints at these issues by demoting highly valuable material such as gold leaf, used here to gild lowly common objects.

Schoultz, who is based in L.A., draws inspiration from sources as varied as late-medieval map-making techniques, contemporary street graffiti, counterculture comic books, and Persian miniatures. His works are also reminiscent of late-19th-century Plains Indian ledger art, which repurposed Colonial accounting books as platforms to illustrate personal and political histories. “Age of Empire,” his new body of work (including a site-specific piece) at Joshua Liner Gallery in New York, layers these divergent iconographies as a means to highlight issues of mass manipulation, corruption, international warfare, and the pitfalls of capitalism.

In Fight the Good Fight (Art of Chess) and The King of the Weaker Party Was Not Sufficiently Considered (Art of Chess) (both 2016), Schoultz manipulates historical maps to produce cryptic messages that hint at unknown conspiracies.

In other works, such as We’re An Empire Now and When We Act We Create Our Own Reality (2016), Schoultz’s exchange between past and present seems to mock the cyclical nature of human history. His other fantastical worlds feature ancient vessels and war horses engulfed by motifs that call to mind traditional Persian rugs and psychedelic posters from 1970s.

The Currency Flows Between Two Banks (Bowing Man) (2016) takes on new meaning in concert with its title, while closer inspection yields another layer: A portion of the work was made out of shredded legal tender.


—Grace-Yvette Gemmell


Andrew Schoultz: Age of Empire” is on view at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, Apr. 28–May 27, 2016.

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