Suzanne Jackson: Life Studies 1966-1968: Suzanne Jackson
Pazo Fine Art is pleased to present Suzanne Jackson: Life Studies 1966-1968.
Suzanne Jackson is a multifaceted artist. She is a painter, a dancer, a set designer, a poet, and an art professor who has been working and exhibiting consistently since the 1960s. Jackson holds a BAF from San Francisco State University, California, and an MFA in Design from Yale University School of Drama. Her work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant in 2019.
Her experience in different artistic fields feeds her creativity and experimental thirst, often erasing boundaries between the various manifestations, allowing her to use all these tools to represent a personal cosmogony. She is a very prolific artist who has produced a substantial body of work throughout the years. Many of her pieces combine elements of abstraction and figuration in the same image. Her latest works are more inclined towards abstraction and experimentation with forms and materials blending in them. Although she is probably better recognized by her large and colorful, almost three-dimensional artworks, there is a considerable part of her production that register smaller and more personal pieces, which are, to a certain extension, less known by the public. That is the case of Life Studies, a series of works she developed between 1966 and 1968, during a pivotal moment in her career, and it is figurative. This is a selection of those, which are distinctively portraits and can be divided into three unique groups: naked bodies, faces, and dressed girls.
The more prominent and more extensive subgroup is the naked bodies. These are primarily female depicted with all their flaws and imperfections in plain view. Jackson is not interested in representing the female anatomy with an aesthetic of perfection. She is capturing intimate moments, shown in an uncompromised way. The protagonists are in different poses and angles, not aware or caring that there is a viewer. It confers a voyeuristic character to these images showing these women in vulnerable and private moments.
There is an almost confrontational aspect in these, and they are completely unapologetic. Undoubtedly there is a hidden narrative inherent to each of these pieces. Behind each one could be a story of love or despair, but all show raw emotions. These women are all seated to an extended degree. Most likely after having sex, or at least it is suggested by the pose and the nudity. Some show more details, almost enough to identify the person portrayed, while others are in a more expressionistic vein. Two are frontal views. The first is a woman with short hair, large breast, and only wearing blue panties. She is looking to the left, and her facial features are detailed and specific. The second is a woman with long black hair completely naked, and her face is distorted.
There is an image of a nude couple seated in a bed, presumably after having sex. Both are looking down, probably talking. However, there is a sense of intimacy by the carefree attitude. They are comfortable with each other without pretensions of any kind. It looks like a polaroid picture in terms of the action. Formally, the lines are relaxed, like in a sketch. Jackson is not interested in describing in detail where or when these scenes take place; her concern is to capture the moment’s mood.
Most of them look satisfied, but there is one that carries a distinctive sense of sadness. The woman is on her side, naked and seated with her head over an arm.
There is a feeling of loss surrounding her, and her face is consumed by it. She has short black hair and colorful bracelets on her left arm. The face portraits show fewer details. In some of these, the facial features are indicated by brushstrokes in the space where they should be. There is a freedom inherent to the representation in which the artist is not particularly caring about a canning resemblance with the subject. The backgrounds are equally diffused with broad and translucent strokes. The three portraits exemplified almost three different phases: one is very expressive and colorful, the second is almost monochrome, and the third is realistic.
There are two pieces in the group with a representation more detailed and realistic. These are girls; both are blond and dressed. One wears a yellow summer dress and a hat. Her mood is reflective, her gaze down, legs crossed, and a flower in her hand. The other is a woman in a blue dress, red lips, and a provocative stare. Both are in an undefined space and time, almost like f loating in a white backdrop.
This group of pieces is an excellent example of the different phases the artist transited during these years, particularly in her formative ones. It highlights her desire to experiment with styles and techniques. In these pictures, Jackson achieves a sense of flow, illustrating life at its more primal stage. It shows an artist’s work in a fertile period, a restless mind trying to find its place in the world. These are the emotions of a young woman expressing her desires, aspirations, intimate views, friends, and acquaintances, captured in a time and moment, like a visual diary. These are personal vignettes of an intensive period in her life. It portraits the intensity of the times and her experiences during a foundational period. It offers a glimpse of Jackson’s person during those decades and to the process of transmutation and evolution as an artist and as a woman.
Text by Irina Leyva-Perez.
July 1st, 2021 - July 11th, 2021
Opening reception: Thursday, July 1st, 2021
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