EVAN ISHMAEL

Evan Ishmael
Untitled 13
[EV.03]
Soot on canvas
48 x 36 in.

EVAN ISHMAEL WAS BORN IN ARIZONA IN 1985. HE SPENT HIS EARLY YEARS IN MISSOURI BEFORE MOVING TO MINNESOTA, WHERE HE GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL IN 2003. WHILE GROWING UP, ISHMAEL WAS INTERESTED MORE IN MUSIC THAN VISUAL ART AND WAS AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN THE MINNEAPOLIS MUSIC SCENE AS A TEENAGER. IT WAS ONLY WHEN HE TOOK ON A PART-TIME JOB WORKING FOR HIS STEPFATHER, A PROFESSIONAL CARPENTER, THAT HE DEVELOPED HIS INTEREST IN WOODWORKING. ISHMAEL OWES HIS APPROACH TO ART-MAKING TO HIS EARLY YEARS WORKING WITH HIS HANDS. HIS COMFORT WORKING WITH BUTANE LIGHTERS, TO CREATE HAUNTING IMAGES FROM THE RESIDUAL SOOT, CAN BE TRACED BACK TO HIS EARLY FAMILIARITY WITH POWER TOOLS.

ISHMAEL ATTENDED THE MINNEAPOLIS COLLEGE OF ART & DESIGN (MCAD), CONCENTRATING IN FURNITURE DESIGN FROM 2003 TO 2005. HE APPROACHED FURNITURE DESIGN WITH AN EYE FOR MODERN SCULPTURE RATHER THAN UTILITY. DESIGN AS SUCH WASN’T NECESSARILY A BIG CONSIDERATION IN HIS PRACTICES AT SCHOOL, WHICH MADE HIS TRANSITION TO FINE ART A SMOOTH ONE. ISHMAEL STARTED WORKING WITH SOOT AS HIS PRIMARY MEDIUM ABOUT FIVE YEARS AFTER LEAVING MCAD. ALTHOUGH ISHMAEL WORKS MOSTLY ON CANVAS AND BOARD, HE APPROACHES HIS CURRENT BODY OF WORK MORE IN THREE-DIMENSIONAL TERMS, CONSIDERING THE COMPOSITIONS OF HIS SOOT FORMS AS SCULPTURES.

ISHMAEL’S SOOT PAINTINGS ARE SIMPLE IN COMPOSITION AND DENSE IN FORM. HIS ELEGANT AND MINIMAL PIECES OWE MUCH TO SOL LEWITT, ONE OF THE ARTISTS ISHMAEL CITES AS A MAIN INFLUENCE. ISHMAEL MAKES THE KIND OF ARTWORK HE WANTS TO SEE IN PUBLIC SPACES, USING HIS LOVE OF SIMPLE DESIGN TO CREATE PIECES THAT EVOKE THE MONUMENTALITY OF A ROTHKO, ANOTHER ONE OF HIS FAVORITE ARTISTS. THE FOUNDATION OF ISHMAEL’S ART-MAKING PRACTICES ARE SOOT AND ACRYLIC SPRAY PAINT, AND HE HAS FREQUENTLY COMBINED THE TWO WITHIN THE SAME FRAME. THESE PIECES INCORPORATE THE SMOKY NATURE OF SOOT AND VIBRANT COLOR FIELDS OF SPRAY PAINT, A PAIRING THAT HAS HELD ISHMAEL’S INTEREST AS AN ARTIST FOR MANY YEARS. HE IS CONSTANTLY CREATING VARIATIONS ON THIS THEME AND FINDING NEW WAYS TO APPROACH HIS UNIQUE INTEREST IN FLAME AND PAINT.

IN 2013, ISHMAEL WAS ONE OF SIX ARTISTS FEATURED AND PROMOTED BY ALTERED ESTHETICS. HIS WORK HAS BEEN SHOWN AT JACKSON JUNGE GALLERY AND LAS MANOS GALLERY IN CHICAGO, IL; GAMUT GALLERY AND RUCKUS ART SHOP IN MINNEAPOLIS AND THE 2014 ARROWHEAD BIENNIAL IN DULUTH, MN; DEBUTING AT THE NEW YORK DESIGN CENTER IN 2017; AS WELL AS NUMEROUS COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS AND ADVERTISING IN HIS HOME CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS. IN 2017 HE WAS COMMISSIONED TO MAKE FIVE ORIGINAL PAINTINGS FOR THE NEWLY RENOVATED MINNEAPOLIS HILTON HOTEL.

EVAN ISHMAEL CURRENTLY LIVES AND WORKS IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA.