Spotlight on Artist: Susan Bee
Susan Bee is a painter, editor, and book artist, living in New York City. She has a solo painting show, “Criss Cross: New Paintings,” up until June 29 at Accola Griefen Gallery, NY. Bee has had six solo shows at A.I.R. Gallery. She has published many artist’s books including collaborations with Charles Bernstein, Johanna Drucker, Susan Howe, Regis Bonvicino, Jerry Rothenberg, and Jerome McGann. Bee is the coeditor with Mira Schor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online. Her artwork is in many public and private collections including the Getty Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Yale University, New York Public Library, and the Harvard University Library. Her work has been reviewed in Art in America, Art News, The Forward, The New York Times, Art Papers, and The Brooklyn Rail. Bee teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Visual Arts.
The series of oil paintings that I have been working on recently is based on stills from films, mostly noirs. These primarily small oil paintings dramatize the relationships between male and female characters through the lens of the dark, violent films of the 1940s and 1950s. These new works concentrate on complexity, sensuality, dramatic tension, and strong emotions. I am creating these paintings as spaces for a drama to take place. I’m emphasizing the dynamic between the figures, whether they’re pressing against a windowpane, or pressing up against each other. The paintings’ focus is on these relationships and the psychological space and emotions that are carved out among the persons that I’m portraying.
Ahava, Berlin, was inspired by a trip I made in 2012 to Berlin. I stayed near the former Ahava Kinderheim, located in the Mitte, which was the Jewish ghetto, and is now an arts district. It was a politically progressive Jewish children’s home. My mother lived there from 1927 to 1934. Both my parents grew up in Berlin and were exiled in their teens to Palestine. I based this painting on a melancholy snapshot of me standing in front of the war-scarred, graffitied building, which remains standing as a testament to the suffering of the Jewish population in Germany. The orphanage and most of the children were transferred to Israel, where Ahava, (Hebrew for love) continues to this day.
Susan Bee, Out the Window, 2011, 16″ x 20″, oil and enamel on linen.
Susan Bee, Wherever You Go, 2013, 24″ x 36″, oil on canvas.
Susan Bee, Trouble Ahead, 2012, 20″ x 24″, oil on canvas.
Susan Bee, Ahava, Berlin, 2012, 24″ x 36″, oil, enamel, and sand on canvas.