The objects we surround ourselves with in our homes create a tableau of identity, the interiors of our rooms resemble the interior of our selves. Such are the themes of the incredibly charming new show by Becky Suss at the Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea New York, on view until June 3rd, under the title, “Homemaker.”
The first painting of the show is the largest in scale, both a greeting as you enter the gallery and a farewell as you leave – exactly like the part of the home it depicts: a small foyer, closet, and stairway. Indeed, as with all the paintings, one gets the sense that, while the humans that occupy these interiors are conspicuously absent, they seem like they have only just left the room or are just about to enter, or both. The closet in this first piece is left tantalizingly open, showing us a row of coats, a pair of rain boots, a cream fedora. Details could fill pages of description: a black rotary phone sits on a small stack of books beside a regal chair upholstered in olive green, all set against a traditional cream wallpaper with gray-pastel floral motifs. This is one corner of the painting. Yet the first impression is decidedly simple, clearly reminiscent of the flatness of folk art – a reference the artist repeatedly and lovingly alludes to by including examples on the walls of her interiors.
Venture further into the gallery and you feel as if you were looking at far more pieces than merely four large-scale paintings and a couple very small canvases in between (these small folk pieces feel as if they have been plucked right out of the interiors of the larger paintings). A brick-red kitchen with a gray cerulean hutch and a complex maroon and cream tile floor; an eggplant-colored hallway with cream crown molding archway glimpsing into a living room with blue mid-century chairs before a white-and-gray marble fireplace, a glimpse into a library beside; a bedroom with sprays of peacock feather accents on the four posters and a window seat upholstered in a blue rose patterned fabric in the background. Patterns are legion: fabrics, wallpapers, rugs, tiles, wood grains, all flat upon the canvas becoming contemplations of grids, shapes, colors. The object arrangements become patterns themselves, the never-quite-centered glimpses through archways and doorways yet another pattern, together creating an asymmetrical harmony.
These stylish, Northeastern rooms feel inviting, as if asking us to enter them, and the sheer size of them feels as if they are gateways into another world. And yet the rendering being decidedly flat, they push us out even as the subject matter invites us in. At times there feels almost as if there are tunnels to follow further and further into the paintings – a hallway leads into an archway leads out a window.
What joy it is to enter this ideal wonderland, a dollhouse dream and ode to the objects and spaces that fill our lives, and that we in turn fill with ourselves.
April 27-June 3, 2017
Jack Shainman Gallery
513 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011