Suzy Spence: DEATH RIDER

March 9 - April 14, 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.