Susan English's abstract paintings are concerned with color, light, and surface, and explore the properties and possibilities of materials. She has developed her own unique system of pouring paint onto panels to create luminous and evocative surfaces. The New York Times has described her work as “sublime” and “buoyant.”
English’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts and Littlejohn Contemporary in New York, NY, Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto, CA. and Matteawan Gallery, Theo Ganz Studio, and Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon, NY. Recent group exhibitions include Design, Flow, Interpret, Repeat: Contemporary Abstractions, Strohl Art Center, Chautauqua, NY; Revivify, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY; Solace, 524 W. 26th Street, New York, NY; Undercurrents, The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, NY; The Big Small Show, The Drawing Rooms, Jersey City, NJ; Abstraction: New Modernism, Ann Street Gallery, Newburgh, NY; Currents: Contemporary Abstract Art in the Hudson Valley, Edward Hopper House, Nyack, NY; and Far and Wide, Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, Woodstock, NY. English was awarded an artist residency at Ucross Foundation, Clearmont, WY (2018); a fellowship at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, Ithaca, NY (2016); She worked as a Teaching Artist at DIA:Beacon, and was a founding member of Collaborative Concepts in Beacon, NY. In 2008 she co-curated (with Jaanika Peerna) Drawing Revealed at the Garrison Art Center, Garrison, NY. The exhibition included the production of a documentary on artists’ drawing processes. English’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Widewalls Magazine, Whitehot Magazine, Chronogram, Abstract Art Online, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Highlands Current. She received an MFA from Hunter College in New York City and a BA from Hamilton College, Clinton, NY. She lives and works in Cold Spring, NY.
Color like a thought that grows out of a mood... Wallace Stevens
Over the past decade, I have developed a process of pouring layers of tinted polymer on panel that has expanded the breadth of what I can achieve with color and surface in my abstract works. After pouring the tinted polymer, I manipulate the panel so the paint collects or cracks. The poured polymer mimics nature: a layer of polymer hardens like ice or mud —its thickness and viscosity impacting how the surface dries. The variations on the surface and the quality of the color are the result of a delicate and flexible relationship between control and accident. I assemble the poured panels into specifically calibrated horizontal or vertical sequences, creating a narrative of color, space, and light. The surfaces range from dull to glossy, either absorbing or reflecting the light, existing always in relationship to the light in the room and the position of the viewer.
My color choices represent an intersection of outside and inside. Often a color idea comes from an experience of a place or moment in time. As a point of departure, this enters the internal world of a painting and begins a life of its own. Inside the highly charged relational realm of color, my responses and choices are visual, emotional, and intuitive. I play with the phenomenon of a color at the limit of itself. How far can green be pushed before it becomes blue? How many infinite directions can you push a brown or a gray or a white? In this tertiary area, colors hum in multiple ways like a harmony contained in a single note.
Color is never stable...it exists always in relationship to light and in a relational context to other colors—reactions to colors are personal and resonate with memories and feelings. As such it is a deep well of content to explore. For me, a painting reaches an end point when the cumulative phenomenon of surface and color cohere, reaching a state of beauty that resonates on multiple levels.