The Artsy Vanguard 2020: Suzanne Jackson

Isis Davis-Marks
Sep 11, 2020 8:00PM

Suzanne Jackson

B. 1944, St. Louis, Missouri. Lives and works in Savannah, Georgia.

Suzanne Jackson, Hers and His, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Ortuzar Projects.

Suzanne Jackson
Ancient Leaf, 1975-1984
Aaron Galleries

In 2019, Suzanne Jackson opened an acclaimed New York solo show, “NEWS!” at Ortuzar Projects in Tribeca. The works included masterful paintings bathed in light acrylic washes that appear inky and fluid—like the wonderfully composed a history drawing-cracked wall (2016–19)—as well as several of her recent “anti-canvases.” These suspended, tapestry-like forms are made from acrylic and embedded with poetic arrangements of nets, strings, rods, and found objects, like bells and bamboo. The exhibition followed a major retrospective of Jackson’s work at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia. And while Jackson has been increasingly gaining attention in recent years, she has long been esteemed for her dynamic art practice, which she has been honing and exhibiting for over five decades.

Many of Jackson’s paintings are abstract with hints of figuration. For example, in Under Sea (1996–2000), swirls of blue, yellow, and purple wrap around one another in an intricate dance. Upon closer examination, you can see forms that resemble a sea creature and a person, encircled by leaves resembling kelp. The painting radiates dynamic energy.

Jackson is also recognized for fostering Black art communities since the 1960s. In 1968, she opened her own art space, Gallery 32, in her Los Angeles studio. The gallery showed the work of important African American artists, including David Hammons and Betye Saar, at a time when it was particularly difficult for Black artists to show work at major institutions.

Eventually, Jackson left Los Angeles and relocated to Savannah to teach at the Savannah College of Arts and Design. She lives in the same city today, and is represented by Aaron Galleries and Ortuzar Projects.

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

The Artsy Vanguard 2020 is our annual list of the most promising artists shaping the future of contemporary art. This year, artists are organized into two categories: Newly Emerging, which presents artists who’ve gained momentum in the past year, showing at leading institutions and galleries; and Getting Their Due, which identifies artists who have persevered for decades, yet only recently received the spotlight they deserve. Now in its third edition, the feature was developed by the Artsy staff, in collaboration with our network of international curators and art professionals. Explore more of The Artsy Vanguard 2020.

Isis Davis-Marks

Header and thumbnail image, from left to right: Suzanne Jackson, “Blues Garden + Track/Back-Sea,” 2010; Suzanne Jackson, “El Paradiso,” 1981–84; Portrait of Suzanne Jackson in front of her 2014 work “Harpie’s Hawk” at the Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary Show 2020. Photo by Jenn Terrell. Courtesy of Aaron Galleries; Suzanne Jackson, “Lizzie and Me with Friends,” 2005. All artwork images courtesy of the artist and Ortuzar Projects.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated that “NEWS!” was Jackson’s first solo show in New York. The text has been updated to correct this.

Clarification: A previous version of this article stated that Jackson is represented by Aaron Galleries. She is also represented by Ortuzar Projects, New York.