Solo Exhibition: Suzy Barnard: Atmosphere and Undercurrents, oil paintings.
Exhibition Dates: Tuesday, March 1st- Saturday, March 26th
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 5th, 5-7pm, Artist Talk at 6pm
About the Show
Togonon Gallery is pleased to introduce the work of Suzy Barnard in a solo exhibition of oil paintings. A catalog with an essay by art critic De Witt Cheng accompanies the show. For the past seven years, Barnard has exclusively painted the ships she can see outside her studio window at Pier 70 on the San Francisco Bay. Barnard describes the influence of this locale on her work: “The particular light and weather conditions of the San Francisco Bay create an ever changing scene, shrouding and illuminating the ships and water in ways that continue to fascinate me. Sometimes ghostly and glimmering, sometimes glowing in the full glory of sunlight, the ships are like large still lives on a liquid surface, sublime, mysterious, and full of longing.”
Born and educated in England, with continued studies at the San Francisco Art Institute Barnard’s work references Impressionist paintings of the late 19th century and early 20thcentury, as well as the later innovations of the Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists in the United States. Her approach to the surface of the canvas is improvisational, working often from snapshots taken during commutes and from her studio window. The results have been described as “Tactile, abraded, distressed surfaces that evoke wind, water, sky in stately motion.”
Barnard says, “Looking and working for many years at the same subject gave me both freedom and framework to truly delve deeply and distill what it is about paint and color that is essential to me.” The ominous associations surrounding the shipping industry’s world—environmental disaster, pollution, the global economic impact, etc., further absorbed Barnard, as she strived to look beyond the surface.
As much as the ships are symbols of freedom and new horizons, Barnard has found the same freedom in her own expressions, successfully portraying the romantic poetry of these ships, conveying the sublime fleeting moment, imbued with longing and hope for new horizons-all metaphors for the human condition. “Industrial yet romantic, large cargo ships seen from far away are imbued with poetry. They transport us to new places conjured in our imaginations, allowing long journeys far beyond our daily horizons, somewhere between bliss and hope, and the exquisite melancholy of a beautiful song one can’t quite remember.”
As a painter, mining the same territory again and again, I have developed a strangely expert eye for these ships that come into my purview, and I delve deeper into my discoveries about applying paint and color. Illusive and fleeting, I attempt to capture the essential qualities of the ships and their surrounding atmosphere, and try to make contact with the human condition through these large nautical beasts of burden. To me, they are formidable, proud and beautiful, and they keep appearing and disappearing in new ways that stretch my way of seeing, challenging me to capture the moment, before they glide away.
Read essay on Barnard's "Weather Reports" by art critic DeWitt Cheng