Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents Elemental an exhibition of recent paintings by Susanna Coffey. This is her second solo show at the gallery—her Nocturnes were exhibited at SHFAP in 2012. In this exhibition, Coffey reexamines a subject that has concerned her for decades: the parameters of the self-portrait. What does the ‘self’ look like, what are its boundaries, and where can it be seen? Paintings from the last three years employ differing approaches to producing an image of self. We see faces encoded in landscape and ultimately dissolving within the facture of painted surfaces.
Apophenia describes the phenomenon of seeing faces in clouds or hearing words in the wind. Upon first encountering these works, it is not immediately apparent that they contain faces at all—the subject is camouflaged in patterns of color or lost in watery and verdant landscapes. Coffey’s portraits seem to grow roots; they are entangled, literally inseparable, from their grounds. As Coffey explores the rich psychological space between self and mirror, meaning becomes located in the tension between what is made visible and what is obscured.
Coffey’s gestural lines and evocative tonalities vibrate with human energy and complexity. Her vibrant textured surfaces display a painterly exuberance – she seems to delight in the difficulty of this project. Coffey’s ability to evoke a range of political and spiritual states calls to mind one of her influences, the rich symbolic language of West African figurative sculpture.
Coffey’s self-portraits stand in for individual or collective states of being. In these paintings, one begins to sense one’s own reflection. They reveal an artist coming to terms with what is being done in her name; they ask what are the boundaries between self and society? In the artist’s own words: “I think about the interconnections between people. Like how Aspen trees have a common root system. They look like they are different trees but they are all the same, really. Differences are maybe not as fascinating as similarities. Similarities are never exact, but they are beautiful.” Steve Locke wrote that, “Coffey is painting a new kind of space… She is painting the interference, the attitudes, the obfuscations between the understanding of the self.“
Coffey’s paintings were surveyed at the New York Studio School in 2008. Her work is included in the collections of The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and The Art Institute of Chicago, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Akron Museum of Art, The Weatherspoon Art Museum, The Honolulu Academy of Art, The Minneapolis Museum of Art, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Seville, Spain.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full color catalog.
Wednesday - Sunday
From 12pm to 6pm