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Studio Visit with SUZY SPENCE

All images: © Courtesy of Suzy Spence

Written and curated by Varia Serova



A studio visit with Suzy Spence is organised on the occasion of the artist's first solo exhibition prepared in collaboration with Sears-Peyton (New York), opening on June 10, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. (UTC).



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence

Photography by MG Vander Elst



Suzy Spence grew up between New York and Maine, has completed a residency at Skowhegan and received her BFA and MFA at Parsons and the School of Visual Arts. She is the daughter of painter Marcia Stremlau, who took her daughter along with her to sketch the Maine landscapes. In Parsons, Spence studied under feminist mentors Mira Schor, Rona Pondick, Maureen Connor and Ti-Grace Atkinson, simultaneously developing her own unique conceptual approach to painting.

Spence’s academic achievements pronounced alongside her presence in de Land’s circle - centre de gravité of art, fashion, glamour, grunge and satire and residence to artists like Bernadette Corporation, Cady Noland, Andrea Fraser, and Mark Dion. Spence began exhibiting her work at Colin de Land’s gallery American Fine Arts Co. in 1996.

In the 1990s, Spence began working on a series of faux society portraits, including a self-portrait of herself as a dowager titled The Duchess (1996), a witty, critical and stylish look at self, that pinpointed distinctive features of Spence's recognisable aesthetic system.

A decade after in 2016, Spence spent a week in residence at Fairfield Porter’s former home on Great Spruce Head island off the Maine coast, finding inspiration while staying in Porter’s former bedroom, reading his biography and sitting on his private porch. Around that time, artist's fascination with equestrian pastoral scenes and her new found inspiration manifested with a new, looser direction in her painting and a softened pastel palette. The painting of the nude fallen rider started her Side Saddle Society paintings and series of ink drawings. Rendered in minute detail yet with painterly breadth, her artworks of that period united scenes of female horse riders (from artist's personal circle, as she herself recalls) caught in various moments of the hunt and dolce far niente. The distinctive aesthetic captured in these paintings has also impacted her most recent works, including Widow series (2016-2018) - large scale flashe on paper portraits of the contemporary Amazons gazing darkly and invitingly from behind their veiled top hats, and Optimists series (2018-2021).

Circumstantially caught in between urban and rural, Spence documents an inhabited landscape quite different to her contemporaries, evincing her profoundly personal aesthetics and her unique investigation into the depiction of physical and psychological space. Through merging feminist approach, personal experience and centuries-old tradition of sporting paintings, Spence’s works continuously render her witty creative world inviting in its solidarity, preserving their unique place in the genre’s history.



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence

Photography by MG Vander Elst



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



Cigar Smoker, 2020, flashe on paper, 9x12 in. © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



Ophelia in Spurs (II), 2018, flashe on paper, 16 x 20 in.

© Courtesy of Suzy Spence


Hunt (Puff), 2021, acrylic on paper, 39 x 50 in. © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



Hound Walk, 2020, flashe and acrylic on paper, mounted on panel, 16 x 20 in.

© Courtesy of Suzy Spence



Cloud Walk, 2021, flashe and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 96 in.

© Courtesy of Suzy Spence



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence



Hounds of Love [detail], 2021, flashe and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 96 in.

© Courtesy of Suzy Spence



Dappled Widow, 2017, flashe and acrylic mounted on panel, 12 x 12 in.

© Courtesy of Suzy Spence



In the studio with Suzy Spence © Courtesy of Suzy Spence