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Susannah Bettag

  • Unknown
  • Imaginewhatwedesire
  • Lesstruethantruth_morerealthanreal
  • Losinganillusion
  • Truthandtears
  • Wearecaughtbydesire
  • Susannah-bettag_dancing_on_the_clouds_of_invention_lg


Oxford, England

Lives in
San Francisco

Works in
San Francisco

Camberwell College of Arts and Crafts, 1991, BA
Oxford Polytechnic/Brooks University, 1988

Representing galleries
Frey Norris


I was born in Oxford, England, and graduated in 1991 from Camberwell College of Arts, London with a BA (honors) in illustration. Moving then to San Francisco, I started a business in graphic design, illustration and later web design work and joined the Awarehouse, an art and design community group in SOMA, as a founding member. In 2000, I quit the successful but less inspiring corporate design world, and waded into the deep end of all painting all the time. I joined the Blue Studio artists’ group in 2001, had twins in 2003, became a resident artist at Red Ink Studios in 2004, joined Compound21 in 2006, and began my representation at Frey Norris Gallery in San Francisco in 2006. To date, my work has been predominantly in painting, though I have worked in sculpture and installation work, and recently began work in animation and video.

My art is a pleasurable investigation of subjects such as sexuality and self worth, reflecting the confusing and conflicting internal impulses we’re often forced to navigate on a daily basis. It touches on questions of women’s roles, employing a saccharine cynicism and personal revelations. Built up of layers that both hide and highlight, my paintings, installations and new videos explore fantasy and nagging private doubts, confronting the always-alluring topic of sex, but with whimsy and irony. Intricate details and small, innocent characters, spill out across the paintings, in their obsessiveness referencing the intense minutiae in traditional women's art (e.g. the quilt, the needlepoint). Large-scale pornographic nudes reference the traditional odalisque, but their overt sexuality is generic and meant to disturb as much as titillate. In three dimensions the contrasts remain – innocence and fear, dream and nightmare. These contrasts question the gray area between mundane routines and overwrought fantasies, and challenge the viewer to make difficult choices – the details and smears or the graphic nudes, the whimsy or the disturbing subtexts. Layers of meaning, just like layers of identity, literally lay one over the other

Recent Exhibits

Susannah Bettag participated in these exhibits:

Oct, 2009 Echo: Eight San Francisco Artists Respond to Surrealist Masterworks
Gallery Wendi Norris
Oct, 2008 Things You Shouldn't See
Gallery Wendi Norris
Aug, 2008 JURIED@BAC
Berkeley Art Center
Aug, 2008 Quorum exhibition and Blood For Art
LIMN Gallery
Oct, 2007 Code Switching
Swarm Gallery
Jul, 2007 Artists Go Lightly
Temporary Autonomous Museum(s)
Click here to see all exhibits for Susannah Bettag
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