Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Just Seen and Dashed Off: Susan Metzger at Aarhus
Until July 31 Susan Metzger is showing a new body of work at Belfast’s Åarhus Gallery. Her new paintings constitute a small but significant departure—the atmospheric bands of color suggesting a landscape’s limitless horizon are still there, but there is also an important shift toward representation of two subjects. One group of works contains an area of focus, of literalness, in which a single wave crashes in a swirl of white. The other series is inspired by images of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning in the middle of a vast watery expanse. I had seen these reproductions tacked to the walls of Metzger’s studio when I visited in January of this year. And here they are now in her newest paintings: dark brooding presences amidst calmness. Erupting from an indefinite area of color that we read as fire, totally black or black/blue/grey columns of smoke arise like tornadoes of foreboding. Metzger’s painting surfaces are still richly textured through multiple layers of gesso, paint, and sanding, and they have gained an additional interest in the transitions from the darkest billowing clouds to the bluest skies. Compositionally there is a new dynamism of interacting colors and shapes which is also reflected in all of the paintings’ titles which include Darkening, Not Stopping, Pooling, and Melting. The horrific, sublime, and romantic are all coexisting in these new paintings which vibrate with the tension between threat and lucidity.