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Susannah Bettag

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BFF, 2008 Acrylic on Panel 24" X 24" © Susannah Bettag
Imaginewhatwedesire
Imagine What We Desire, 2008 Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Masonite 48" X 36" © Courtesy of the Artist and Frey Norris Gallery
Lesstruethantruth_morerealthanreal
Less True Than Truth, More Real Than Real, 2008 Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Masonite 81" X 48" © Courtesy of the Artist and Frey Norris Gallery
Losinganillusion
Losing An Illusion, 2008 Acrylic on Masonite 24" X 24" © Courtesy of the Artist and Frey Norris Gallery
Truthandtears
Truth and Tears, 2008 Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Masonite 24" X 24' © Courtesy of the Artist and Frey Norris Gallery
Wearecaughtbydesire
We Are Caught By Desire, 2008 Acrylic on Masonite 24" X 24" © Courtesy of the Artist and Frey Norris Gallery
Susannah-bettag_dancing_on_the_clouds_of_invention_lg
Dancing on the Clouds of Invention, 2008 Acrylic on Masonite 24 X 24" © courtesy of the Artist and Frey Norris Gallery
Artistinstudio
Quick Facts
Birthplace
Oxford, England
Lives in
San Francisco
Works in
San Francisco
Schools
Camberwell College of Arts and Crafts, 1991, BA
Oxford Polytechnic/Brooks University, 1988
Representing galleries
Frey Norris
Statement

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