by David Zimmerman

In her paintings exhibited at Artifact Projects, Susan Zatt applies organic materials onto somewhat circumspectly flat surfaces. The optical result is an insinuation of ground line or ground level. What hovers above is an open undifferentiated space. The meeting line between the two suggests a horizon line which stretches, at least in the mind’s eye, forever. Thus, the illusion of planar frontality and undifferentiated space and mass is confronted by the presence and weight of prima materiae, earthen source material. Illusionistic force is met head on with the implaccable real.

Judging from the abstracted forms with which the artist is immersed Susan Zatt is clearly investigating transformation of elements, the passage of time and the celebration of flux that binds the two together.  The dream that endures is that of a reflection on the possibilities of meaning and experience without fixing the conditions or limits of communication.  Susan Zatt is an artist who has mastered the art of the iconoclastic, where shibolleths of prescribed forms are allowed to crash to the ground and splinter.

Organic substances such as sand and shells held in abeyance on her corruscate surfaces, creating a certain sense of drama in which flecks of placid nature seem to have become inscribed within the sturm und drang of painterly bravado.  This turbulence of pure painterly effects, expunged of representational notations, is heightened in many works.  In her paintings Zatt covers her pictorial surfaces, so as to create a near-Dionysian sense of delirium and amplitude. This frenzy is controlled to such a remarkable degree that the surfaces of the painter’s works assume a type of magical aestheticism which caresses the eye and subjugates it through its harnessed beauty.

It is this quality in which the artist achieves a kind of figuration whose limits, while distinct, are not perceived as illusively tangible, as contour or edge that permeates these pure abstractions.  This statement is not to minimize the sensuous, often opulent materiality of their surfaces. The claim this observer is making is that Susan Zatt, in her most developed works, allows materiality to be subsumed within a pictorial whole.

The beauty of her artwork inspired by the ocean lies in its many nuances, surfaces compel us whether they be granular, mat or rough; and colors and forms and brushstrokes inhere together like the qualities in an art object from nature, captivating us in their coarse substance. The internal articulations of her work, all of which are experienced as illusively tangible, are the means by which the everyday mind is routed and the spirit is roused into another dimension.

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