Monday, November 30, 2015

Susan Lichtman

April 5, 2010 by  
Filed under interiors

Visitors 2006 Oil on Linen 60 x 66 inches
If you are anywhere near Philadelphia this April, a must see is Susan Lichtman’s current show of stunning oil and gouache paintings will be part of a two-woman show with Celia Reisman at the Gross McCleaf Gallery. She is also in a group show, Tenets, at 106 Green, in Brooklyn, curated by Vera Iliatova, on view until April 4th. Susan Lichtman’s interiors and figurative work are more derived from memory, sketch’s and some photo reference rather than being directly from observation. Her paintings often depict domestic scenes with a hint of narrative that are based on views from her home of many years. However, the most compelling subject is the marvelous inventions of light and color arrangements using flattened abstracted forms interacting in a potent visual drama.

Fabric on Porch, gouache on linen, 18 x 24 inches

In a well written article in the August 2008 American Artist by John A. Parks
there are a number of interesting quotes from the artist and observations the writer made that I’ll quote here:

The artist’s narrative strategy, like her rendering approach, is one of hints and suggestions, rather than fully realized stories and perfectly turned forms. “I used to love Mallarmé’s quote that said you should suggest and not name, because that’s where the poetry lies,” she recalls. On the other hand, the artist does not let her paintings become too general. “I’m trying to get mystery and specificity at the same time,” she adds, “even though they seem to be quite opposite things.”

Family Dog 2006 Gouache on Paper 12 x 16 inches

“For all the dramatic light in her work, Lichtman’s paintings are unified by a carefully controlled palette. “To me, close-valued color is magical,” says the artist. “It’s a way for the paint to imply the fiction of light and air. A palette of close values also gives the picture a kind of envelope into which everything is placed.” In order to achieve this end, the artist uses a very limited set of colors. “For many years I used a palette of earth red, cobalt blue, cadmium yellow, and white,” she says. “The darkest color I could mix was red and cobalt blue, so everything remained in a fairly narrow range, tonally. And because the cobalt easily gets overwhelmed by the red, the paintings tended to have a reddish tinge.”

Fathers, Dogs, Daughters oil on linen 62 x 60 inches

… “The artist also considers the overall decorative property of a picture achieved with a limited palette. “I think my idea of beauty in painting has to do with the tension between the depiction of deep space and the properties of shape and surface,” she says. “I see that tension in interior paintings of artists I love best, from Roman wall painting to De Hooch, Vuillard, Bonnard, and Gwen John. Sunlight or lamplight juxtaposed with shadows add to the complexity of shapes. I am interested in how light can divert attention away from figures and slow down the reading of the imagery.”

Family at Sundown oil on linen 48 x 72 inches

Susan Lichtman studied at Brown University and then attended the Yale University School of Art, in New Haven, Connecticut, where she worked with William Bailey, Bernard Chaet, Gretna Campbell, and Andrew Forge.
She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Brandeis University where she has taught since 1989.

Man in White Suit gouache on paper 12 x 9 inches

Fresh Air2005 Oil on Panel 12 x 12 inches

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4 Responses to “Susan Lichtman”
  1. Rebecca says:

    Tremendous thanks for sharing Larry, meant to say so days ago when you first posted it. I think she is marvellous, for many of the same reasons that I like Sangram’s works. I guess it means I like the from memory feel, and yet there is something so observed about it all (which means just the same thing in the end possiblly?). I also appreciate the homleiness of it all, not needing a grand stage nor great landscape. Just appreciating what is around you and finding in it something to explore.

  2. these are wonderful paintings I really enjoy the immediacy mixed with the time stopped still aspect and the way they are painted. I see a love of geometry which I also see in the light, the colours as affected by the light and of course the positive and negative forms. i regret that so much art is universal that it loses it’s sense of

  3. These are some awesome paintings. The interplay of the sunbeam coming through the bottom of “Fathers,Dogs, Daughters” along with the cobalt blue shadows around the father’s feet, is just great. Her treatment of the light both compresses and fractures the space, as well as, opens it up to atmosphere and depth. She really creates a strong feeling of intimacy in these spaces…like a dream remembered or a faded memory from one’s youth.

  4. These Susan Lichtman paintings are great. I am reminded of Fairfield Porter, Bonnard, Bathus
    but she has her own way of seeing. Wonderful light.

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