Susan Vecsey: Day and Night


Info: Susan Vecsey: Day and Night, Jul  6 - Aug 11, 2023

Berry Campbell is pleased to present Day and Night, its fifth solo show with Susan Vecsey. In 15 new oil paintings, luminous nocturnes set where the sea meets the sky, Vecsey continues her exploration of the optical sublime.

Like all her works, Vecsey’s recent series of poured paintings is inspired by the topography of eastern Long Island, and the ever-changing effects of light, air, and water on human perception. Stained in shades of blue, orange, gray, and white, Vecsey’s soft-edge abstractions hover at the edge of pure form and illusion.

Vecsey arrives at her minimal compositions through an elaborate series of actions that begins with direct observation and ends with risky improvisation. First, she creates charcoal sketches in the plein air tradition, recording the landscapes along the shores of eastern Long Island. Then she moves to the studio.

Using tactics from artistic influences including the Tonalists and Josef Albers, she creates pastel and color studies to achieve the precise effect she envisions. Only then does she begin to pour.

Vecsey describes her distinctive process as “working like a watercolorist with liquefied oil paint.” Using large cups, she pours her carefully calibrated hues directly on a surface of brown linen. There is no room for error. She does one pour a day on each painting, building the colors in layers and taking into account the surface, typically raw Belgian linen. She works on several canvases a day; each can take two or three months to complete.

Day and Night includes ten paintings on linen, and five on paper, all made over the last two years. With just a few bands of color, each composition opens a different window into perception, showcasing the precision of Vecsey’s strategic tonal combinations–not to mention her dexterity in an unpredictable process.

Lyrical and mesmerizing, infused with the hazy air of the Atlantic Ocean, Vecsey’s paintings offer viewers a portal to the earth’s daily show of color and light. In Untitled (Blue Nocturne), five shades of the same color unite at a shifting horizon. Untitled (Gray) evokes the movement of air in motion over the sea. Other works depict the mutable effects of light on blue: Untitled (Blue Nocturne), 2023, dominated by its glowing field in the upper register, and Untitled (Pale Blue). Untitled (Orange Nocturne) captures that moment when the sun dips just below the horizon, its fading glow permeating the atmosphere.

Deeper in hue than Vecsey’s earlier works, the paintings in Day and Night reward close looking, as Dr. Lisa N. Peters writes in the catalog. “Seeing a show of Vecsey’s paintings is ultimately an experience of the subtleties of light that often pass us by, making us aware of nuances we would otherwise miss.”

Susan Vecsey: Day and Night opens on Thursday, July 6, 2023 with an opening reception from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. and runs through August 11, 2023.  The exhibition is accompanied by a 20-page catalogue with a biography by Lisa N. Peters, Ph.D.