ARTletter september 2010 : Rhizome paintings exhibited by Sarah SUTTON

September 10th, 2010

The upcoming exhibition in LESLIE’S ARTGALLERY next week shows the new current works of the american artist Sarah Sutton.

You are welcome at the opening reception of the exhibition at the gallery in Bridel on friday 17th September 2010 starting at 19h00. Sarah Sutton will be present. The exhibition is open for a preview on thursday, 16th September 2010, between 16h00 and 20h00. The regular opening of the exhibition is from September 18th to October 30th 2010, every day except on sundays and mondays, from 15h00 to 19h00.

Portrait Sarah Sutton

Sarah Sutton with works in progress (photo courtesy of Robert Banks)

Sarah Sutton currently lives in Rochester New York, where she teaches at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work is represented by LESLIE’S ARTGALLERY and has been shown in Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Brussels. She was a resident at the Millay Colony, as well as at the Sante Fe Art Institute as a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Stipend. Her current work is interested in what she sees as the changing relationship between representation and abstraction in the information age. Primarily a painter, she is interested in how editing, translation and filtering engage the senses and complicate the relationship between form and subject matter.

Visit the interactive online presentation of the first solo exhibition of Sarah Sutton in Luxembourg and have a look at her artworks available in stock.


Rhyzome Painting

"Untitled, May 2010", 2010, 81 x 86 cm

Rhizome Painting #2

"Untitled 4, September 2009", 2010, 91 x 86 cm

Sarah Sutton uses in her paintings a layering system made up of various visual elements that interweave and overlap on Mylar. This aspect of her work is inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the rhizome. The rhizome is used as a metaphor for information. It assumes very diverse forms; any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other based merely on proximity. More often than not this results in a cross breeding of disparate information. Sarah Sutton intertwines various kinds of information made up of synthetic pastels, candy colored washes, text, graphic elements and fields of photo-based imagery. There is no hierarchy of space or content in the paintings. Representation and abstraction exist on the same level, as strands of visual information. The overlapping resonances and junctures of the information result in a kind of ornamental structure upon which the original reference loses its impact and becomes a structural element to the overall composition. The end result is a network of visual metaphors that must be decoded and deciphered from the clusters of visual data.

Prof. Thomas Zummer in Brussels, November 2007, Cimatics 07 AV Festival

Prof. Thomas Zummer in Brussels, November 2007, Cimatics 07 AV Festival ; photo by Marius Watz, an artist working with visual abstraction through generative systems (creative commons licence)

In a recent conversation with Thomas Zummer, an artist and lecturer at the Tyler School of Art and a visiting professor in critical studies in the Transmedia Programme at the Hogeschool Sint Lukas, Brussels, as well as visiting professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Sarah Sutton explained the relation between abstract and representational artworks by describing her methods as follows :

My process is more focused on the interaction between filtering and the emergent image vs. whether or not the image appears to be abstract or representational.

I begin with what I call a ‘paint matrix’-this is my term for a ‘plate’ of wet gestural paint. I photograph it from above in bright light with the acrylic paint still wet. The color emits light and mirrors other colors around it. I am most interested in moments where 2d and 3d become confusing to the eye and the differentiation between color and form becomes ambiguous. The highly saturated color, high relief and ‘aerial’ view create the ideal set-up for dimensional confusion. The reflective quality of the wet paint becomes a light source , and often I am able to completely cancel out or alter a shape with the reflection of an adjacent color.

I then use the computer to divide the images into very small areas, which helps to find even more hidden ‘moments’ of the instances of cognitive misprison as noted above. Once I find these areas I often repeat them over and over at different sizes and resolutions. An area that is a shadow affirming the 3-dimensional appearance of a shape is often zoomed in on until it is flat, and then used as a flat instance. A small section may be cropped in Photoshop and stretched to become a hazy gradation that becomes the ground. I then use this image as a study for the final painting. The final painting is actually representational in that I paint a ‘picture’ of the gesture (vs. trying to recreate or simulate the original gesture); Whether it is the painterly gesture, a photographic effect or mark that is computer generated, I paint each equally, as an ‘image’.

In short, it is via an idiosyncratic sequence of processing that includes approaches that traditionally indicate both abstraction and representation in painting, that my images emerge vs. any kind of strategic reduction.

An artbook featuring the artworks of Sarah Sutton, with shots showing the process of creating her paintings and the full text of the conversation with Prof. Thomas Zummer, edited by the gallery, will be available soon. Visit the publications webpage in the near future to order your copy at the Blurb Bookstore.