The seven new paintings in Bill Saylor’s “Shadow Ballers” present an aquatic world in crisis. Themes of ecological damage are underscored by a chaotic mix of artistic methods: rough depictions of marine life mingle with various modes of abstraction and graffitilike text. Plexus (2016) features two playfully rendered squids navigating an environment fraught with debris and toxic sludge. Environmental threat manifests here as a skull-headed mutant pursuing the sea creatures. Also on view are drawings and sculptures, and their motifs echo those of the paintings. In Blizzard Wizzard (2016), the form of a coral reef emerges from an assemblage of mass-produced objects covered in plaster, while in the drawings, frenetically applied markings encroach on squids and schools of fish. In every medium, the diversity of styles and materials suggest that the means of visual representation available to artists have become as polluted as the fluorescent waters depicted in the works. All this adds up to the ominous possibility that the fantastical world of “Shadow Ballers” is only several degrees different from our own. —Kate Moger
Pictured: Bill Saylor: Humboldt Hangout, 2017, oil on hemp, 84 by 64 by 1½ inches. Courtesy Magenta Plains, New York.