FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Suzy Spence: DEATH RIDER
March 9 - April 22, 2019
opening reception: Saturday, March 9, 6-9pm
Suzy Spence: DEATH RIDER brings together two large-scale paintings and several smaller
works by Suzy Spence in an exhibition that continues her exploration of death and sex
through the metaphor of drag hunting.
Her largest paintings to date, The New Yorker (Widow VIII) and Death Rider (Widow IX), both
2019, are each nine by twelve feet. These commanding, frontal portraits of sidesaddle riders
are rendered from the shoulders up, with equestrian stock ties wrapped tightly around their
necks. The women’s veils, composed of black paint drips raining down from Victorian top
hats, evoke a macabre update to Alex Katz’s iconic Blue Umbrella 2 (1972) in which Ada
seems to weep with the raindrops. Building on Katz’s graphic approach, Spence combines
Frankenthaler-inflected soaking and staining with drawing, using broad, industrial-sized
brushes and sponges to achieve an all-over effect with an expressionistic bravado that bids
the individual riders to emerge.
Along with these two large-scale paintings, a selection of smaller, nine by twelve inch
portraits -- which Spence calls “black paintings” -- show single riders seated in equestrian
finery. Elegant, intimate, contemplative, each of her subjects is accompanied by a horse
(their mount) and surrounded by darkness in restrained interplays of intimacy and control.
Spence’s natural hand has a rounded, cartooning quality that, along with its satirical edge
and painterly facility, references Francesco de Goya’s Black Paintings. Goya’s psychologically
charged and mysterious portraits of patrons could, like Spence’s, be as reverent as they
could be vicious.
In Drag Hunt (2019), the only landscape painting in the show, four riders leap through an
elaborate field of stone walls and thick brush, detailed with cerebral, repetitive patterning
reminiscent of Charles Burchfield’s paintings and wall papers. Spence’s riders chase a blank
in the space where the fox should be, galloping into the lush oblivion while each moment
swells with life and adventure.
A veteran of the downtown 1990s art scene, Spence was featured in the first installment of
Painting Now and Forever at Matthew Marks and Pat Hearn galleries in 1998, and was one of
a few painters to exhibit at the conceptually oriented American Fine Arts, Co. Born in 1969,
she grew up in Maine and New York City, and was educated at Parsons School of Design
(BFA), The School of Visual Arts (MFA), and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and
Cathouse Proper @ 524 Projects
524 Court Street (enter Huntington Street)
Brooklyn NY 11231
Friday - Sunday, 12-6pm
contact: David Dixon
F/G to Smith-9th St.