Statement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Bleakley

 

My work includes sculpture, installation, painting, photography and video. I have recently concentrated on abstract painting and am represented by Crane Kalman Gallery in Knightsbridge, London. I have exhibited in both mixed and solo shows nationally and internationally across a range of media, and this has involved numerous collaborations with other artists. I was a founding member of the influential artists’ collective PALP in west Cornwall that challenged the dominant painting aesthetic for a more radical installation work. Recently, however, I have returned to a more formal style of abstract painting using grids and geometric forms to make varieties of ‘veils’ or ‘doorways’. Sustained viewing offers a revelation of an interiority behind a veil or unhinged doorway, where viewing the painting becomes an indwelling activity rather than an ‘arm’s length’ gaze. Paintings then become sculptural and form is enhanced by both choice of colour and paintings displayed as series. I am a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists (NSA) and was a Committee member for three years. I then recognize the responsibilities of RWA academicians and look forward to being involved in whatever capacity. For many years, I have taught visual ‘ways of looking’ to 4th year medical students.

 

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Susan Bleakley

 

Text to accompany paintings.

 

 

The four abstract paintings are part of a recent series in which a repetitive ‘other’ surface is overlaid or inserted on a prepared grid to form a kind of veil. The viewer initially sees the surface geometric form of the veil, but sustained looking reveals emergent, deeper patterns and movement. The paintings can be thought of as ‘hot’ rather than ‘cool’ abstracts with sensations shaped by colour choices. It is as if the paintings can be viewed from the ‘inside’ out as well as the outside in. In the larger painting ‘More Blue Doorways’ I am seeking an expansion and contraction effect, where the ‘doorways’ are unhinged. In the smaller paintings, ‘Quilted Memory’ affords a gathering up and falling away in the same moment; ‘Seed Windows’ offers a hovering effect; and ‘A Page From the Book of Seeds’ is both a form of suspension and a ‘striking out’, where something is suspended without erasure. The paintings can be thought of as maps for ‘interiority’ or ‘indwelling’ – not simply looking at something, but inviting immersion through inhabiting a liquid or moving geometric space. The paintings are purposefully tonally similar to mark a resonant series.  

 

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In the past year, I have been exploring two mediums—paint and silicone—around a motif that I would call 'distorted geometry'. This is a progression of a previous phase of work that explored the artificial dividing line between the organic and inorganic.

In this new work, I am interested in the dialogue between the robust and the delicate,which echoes the world of 'in-between' biological forms such as viruses. The translation of these forms into silicone sculptures essays various states of infection,mainly joyous. Seen as a whole, the body of work may be plotted as one piece infecting another, and so on around a group.

The silicone sculptures are 'drawn' with a silicone gun, producing highly tactile objects that seem to be in a state of readiness for reproduction, promising a colony. I have been aiming to produce objects that through their clean simplicity set out to conquer the eye of the spectator, and are then imperial,wanting to reproduce in the mind of the spectator.

I did not literally want to produce multiple objects, but allow colonization, multiplicity, infection, to occur in the mind of the beholder.

The second theme, beyond multiplicity and infection, is that the sculptures play with what is deep and surface,interior and exterior. They promise clarity but offer opacity. As you look into them they bounce you off. There is an allure of depth,but it turns out to be all surface. They open up as they seal over. They are perfectly in-focus objects that on closer inspection are out of focus. They look cold to touch, but are slightly sticky with warmth. They invite classification but unfold something beyond, some fullness, perhaps again a sinister presence of contamination. The larger silicone pieces look like morphing glass.

If there is an encompassing theme, it is an expression of life forms based on silicon rather than carbon, that at once want to express themselves as they shrink from view. Silicone is a compound of silicon and oxygen, and I imagine that the oxygen is the life force that allows the silicone to breath. It is the breath of silicone that the sculptures capture.

The paintings are more to do with the forms infecting me as a painter that produce obsessions—'distorted geometry'. I do not plot out a form,but allow it to develop from a seed mark on the canvas, so that life emerges for which I am a midwife. The colour is open to distortion and movement. Again, these paintings may seem to be in the tradition of op art, but take a sideways glance at the genre, as they attempt to capture the world of virus.

I have continued to carve stone, informed by a motif that has always been prominent in my work—that of the alchemical vessel.The stone pieces play with the dialogue between the robust and the delicate, or the hard and soft landing.