Friday, February 24, 2012

Susan Bee, Recalculating, 2010. (Oil on linen, 16 x 20 inches, from the collection of Richard Deming and Nancy Kuhl.)

I am happy to have been able to make it over to the School of Visual Arts (133/141 West 21 Street) last night for a talk and presentation by the artist Susan Bee (see The Susan Bee Interview at E·ratio). This was part of SVA’s ongoing Art in the First Person lecture series. Bee is charming and amusing talking about her work and what I learned increased my appreciation of her paintings significantly and opened a new window on her collaborations, especially those with her husband, the poet Charles Bernstein. Bee is open-minded and undogmatic—and both where concerns issues of aesthetics in her own art and where concerns the role of art generally. She is humorous without being comical and serious without being stern, and this fits well with her Recalculating series: renderings, or, “recalculatings,” of details of scenes from film noir movies. (Her recalculatings add an element of paraphrase to the scenes sometimes bringing to the surface what was otherwise subliminal.) This film noir series of paintings makes up a very small part of her output and as a small series it succeeds. The presentation was too brief to be an actual overview of her work, for instance the series “Philosophical Trees” was left out. She did show some of her most recent paintings and I was deeply impressed by these and by what I would consider their “psychological content” (I was reminded of Hesse’s drawings for his Pictor’s Metamorphoses and C. G. Jung’s drawings in The Red Book). I am very much looking forward to her next show.

Watch the video: Susan Bee: Recalculating: paintings and collaborations.

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