Sunday, December 13, 2009

Artist Profile: Suzanne Nacha

As a child, Suzanne Nacha created signs alongside her father in his sign painting business, but did not consider fine art as a career until after she completed her undergraduate degree in geology in 1989. She then pursued a BA in Visual Arts from Guelph University and an MFA from York University. Although Suzanne's preferred medium is oil paint, she has been influenced by sculptors such as Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois, finding their "interest in the organic form and its ability to deliver psychological import" compelling. Painters that approach their subjects in sculptural ways such as Giorgio Morandi and Wayne Thiebaud, have also been an influence.

Taking inspiration from the natural world and from "something that an image suggests", Suzanne  begins her exploration of the subject matter by making many studies in gouache, manipulating these in terms of composition, colour and overall format. Sometimes this process leads to a larger work or will result in an image being abandoned in favour of others. In her current series of work Origin currently on display at Loop Gallery, Suzanne explores the underground imagery of tunnels, caves and mine shafts manipulating them to "create a sense of physical unease". Many of the titles are derived from the descending rings of Dante's version of hell.

1.  You work on very unusual formats of supports. Do you construct these yourself? Was this just for this particular show or do you usually work that way?

"In my last body of work entitled 'the geology of morals' I paired sculptural forms with simplified landscape paintings in order to animate a reading of something unseen within the landscape. I felt that at the time the sculptures were more successful in capturing a sense of form and materiality than the paintings they were paired with. With this new series entitled 'Origin" my strategy was to try to make the paintings do the things that the three dimensional sculptures did so well. Shaped canvases were an obvious solution to me and this meant that the internal visual logic of the picture plane was dictated by the external structural edge of the support."

2.  What fascinates you about underground tunnels, caves and mine shafts? And have you ever climbed into a cave?
"I was thinking about these underground spaces as the hidden darker side of landscape and somehow opposed to what we know exists on the surface of the earth. I imagined these to be hollowed out sites - the caches or storage basins of history. I wondered what these spaces might have to say to us now - in light of recent histories and thus began the Origin Series.  
In the past I've been in a couple of small minor caves, in several underground mines and very recently, I visited the catacombs in Rome."

3. If you could chose anywhere in the world to travel and paint, where would you go?

"I'd really like to go to the Caves of Drach in Mallorca, Spain and also to the Mommoth Caves in Kentucky."

4. What is your next project?

"I am working on some large diptychs that continue the Origin Series (showing right now at Loop). I also have some side projects...a large group of works on paper that continue the narrative of the Origin series and an animation project on the theme of mining and the human condition."

Loop Gallery has Suzanne Nacha's Origin Series on display until December 20, 2009. To see more of Suzanne Nacha's work, visit her website here.