Thermal Pool Paintings and Paradise Prints
Venice, CA - L.A. Louver is pleased to present new paintings and archival inkjet prints by Los Angeles-based artist Don Suggs.
“Each of my concentric circular compositions, whether placed upon a landscape or seen on its own, is always the product of an effort at ‘translation’ of a subject picture.” – Don Suggs
In his new work, Suggs continues to explore the circle form as the expression of his conceptual inquiry. A gallery on the first floor contains over a dozen small-scale (14 3/4 x10 1/4 inches) oil paintings entitled either Abyss Pool or Travertine Spring. Inspired by the palette of dark pools and pale mineral springs, Suggs imagines his subject in oils of rich, glossy color applied in concentric circles against a white or grey background. Two large circular abstractions, each painted on five-foot square, canvas-covered panels – one pool and one spring – are exhibited in counterpoint to the smaller paintings.
The exhibition also includes a new series titled Paradise Prints: archival inkjets inspired by landscape, and printed by Suggs in small editions of five or fewer. Each print presents the viewer with a landscape photo in black and white that is overlaid with a form comprised of concentic bands of vibrant colors. The photographs are “true to the camera,” in that Suggs has not digitally recomposed the landscape image he has photographed. The scenes are all American landscapes, and include Joshua Tree, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion National Parks, as well as the California and Oregon coasts. The abstraction that overlays the landscape both obscures and disrupts the view, while it also provides a key to understanding the scene. What the circular abstraction obscures, can only be imagined. We thus enter into a participatory relationship with the painting, and the place itself: we look more closely in order to imagine what we cannot see. The circular abstraction provides a key to understanding the view: either in fact (the palette of the landscape), or in symbol (a reference to something external to the landscape that resonates with the scene). Suggs states, “I subject each of the Paradise Prints to formal analysis and narrative speculation, and it is the latter that accounts for the wide array of color outcomes.”
Titles offer a clue to the image: in Faithful, 2011 (which refers to the geyser, Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park), steam wafts from a hidden earth source, below an expansive cloudy sky. The hovering radial abstraction has a glowing orange heart, which references the heat source of the geyser, and is encircled by shades of grey and blue that allude to the geyser’s steam and the sheltering sky. By contrast, in another of his Paradise Prints, Suggs overlays an elongated formation of smooth sandstone from Joshua Tree with bands of industrial yellow, because in size and configuration the boulder evokes an old school bus. The print is simply titled, Bus, 2011.
Don Suggs was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in San Diego, California. Suggs received his BA from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied art, film and psychology, and remained at the university, earning both a MA in 1971 and MFA in 1972. Suggs has won two National Endowment for the Art Grants, in 1973 and 1991. A thirty-eight year survey of Suggs’ paintings, drawings, photography and sculptures was presented at the Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles in 2007. Titled One Man Group Show, the exhibition was co-curated by gallery director Meg Linton, and artist, writer and art critic Doug Harvey.
In addition to making art, Suggs has enjoyed a distinguished career as a teacher. He has held positions at Florida State University, Tallahassee; Franconia College, New Hampshire; the University of Southern California; Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, and UCLA, where he has taught painting and drawing since 1983.
L.A. Louver has represented Don Suggs since 1976, and Thermal Pool Paintings and Paradise Prints is the artist’s ninth solo show with the gallery.