Becky Suss: Homemaker

Jack Shainman Gallery

513 W 20th St, New York

April 27 - June 3, 2017

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce Becky Suss’ first solo exhibition at the gallery. Her latest body of work addresses the process of remembering and the particular psychology of space. Through paintings of meticulously set interiors, often staged with objects of personal significance, the domestic emerges as a site for reflection. August (2016) depicts a hallway peering into a home office and living room. Two chairs are placed across from each other, and while devoid of sitters, they imply both the absence and presence of inhabitants; the furniture’s rounded, bulky forms take on bodily dimensions, their confrontational configuration as if in deep conversation. 

Blue Apartment (2016) and Red Apartment (2016) draw on the artist’s memory of a family friend’s home: two Manhattan apartments joined together, the walls painted contrasting colors. The fusing of disparate residences echoes the overall anachronistic mixing of decor from various places and periods—distinct and eclectic, united only by the tastes of their owners—that permeate Suss’ paintings. 

The close connection between home and identity that runs throughout the paintings reveals itself in two representations of embroidery: Stars and Stripes For-Ever (2016) and Erin Go Bragh (2017). Based on pieces displayed in the homes of the artist’s grandmothers—both homemakers—they reflect the distinct circumstances of each woman’s life. The former was created by her paternal great-grandmother, a suffragette and child of Russian Jewish immigrants, while the latter came with her maternal grandparents’ fully furnished home, and, reflecting her grandfather's Irish heritage, was hung prominently in the living room. Each is loaded with contradictions about American identity and the domestic sphere, investigating an uneasy femininity through the provocatively reactionary term “homemaker.” 

The paintings’ overall flatness renders the tableaus uncanny and dollhouse-like. What resonates is how a dwelling, despite its rigid physical structure, can adapt, welcoming the day-to-day histories, eccentricities, and impressions of the people who move between its walls. Space becomes a metaphor for being human, ripe with mnemonic potential for intimacy, discovery, and transformation.