Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is thrilled to present I slept, but my heart was awake, an exhibition of new work by painter, Susanna Bluhm.
Using the visual language of abstracted landscapes, signifiers of place, and a vibrant—almost psychadelic—palette, Susanna Bluhm has created a suite of narrative paintings and inspired by the Bible’s “Song of Solomon”—a book of verses about love.
The “Song of Solomon” describes the span of a relationship through all of its iterations—the thrill of falling in love, the longing for that love, the physical experience of that love, the fear of losing that love. It makes frequent use of sweeping hyperbole, “many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it!”, terrific drama, and thinly veiled sexual innuendo. The emotions chronicled therein, however, are as poignant and familiar today as they were during biblical times, which Bluhm has assigned to her own life. The series of paintings born out of this book comprise of what she has termed “a love song to my wife and son”.
These pictorial environments are drawn from numerous sources: photographs from family vacations, experiences, hallucinations and dreams, and memories. Each image functions as a snapshot, from which a narrative can be understood. Images depicted on the canvases may have several associations; for example, the snake pictured in Until the day breathes can convey both menace and fear, and alternately hope and rebirth. With thickly impastoed passages, Bluhm’s snow looks and feels like physical snow rather than a reproduction of snow—similarly it cannily imparts the excitement of new snowfall.
Susanna Bluhm lives and works in Seattle, WA. She earned her BA in Studio Art from California State University Humboldt and her MFA in Painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and at the Karl Hofer Gesellschaft in Berlin.