A.I.R. Gallery is pleased to present Pow! New Paintings by Susan Bee, which features works from 2014-2017. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition of new paintings since 2013. Bee presents some of her most accomplished works to date. Her narrative-based, psychologically ambiguous work incorporates elements from 20th-century abstract painting and cinematic history. These works play with complexity, sensuality, dramatic tension, and humor through the use of complex textures, keyed-up colors, and variegated patterns.
This exhibit includes two groups of paintings that address different areas of subject matter. One group includes portraits of couples. The double portraits are based on black and white film stills. These works are full of tension as well as tenderness. The couples and characters that populate Bee’s paintings are immersed in tumultuous passages of paint that threaten to separate and engulf them. From playful drips and floral patterns to stripes and thick brush strokes, Bee’s paintings make palpable a wide range of human emotions.
The second group re-envisions artwork by other artists. In Bee’s new landscapes and interiors, expressionist and symbolic intensity run riot, with striking pop imagery, linear gestures, and layered painterly textures. These works are in dialogue with, and borrow motifs from, Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, Marsden Hartley, and other artists. They are both homage and confrontation. Bee believes in the power of painting to put forward feminist and political ideas, while confounding our cultural, sexual, and gender definitions. However, she never loses sight of the pure pleasure and aesthetic joy of painting. Susan Bee has been a member of A.I.R. Gallery for twenty years. This is her eighth solo show at the gallery. Her solo show, “Monster Mitt: Paintings from the 1990s” was at the Lisa Cooley Gallery, NY, in 2016. Bee’s “Photograms and Altered Photos from the 1970s” were at Southfirst Gallery, Brooklyn, in 2015. Her solo show, “Paintings from the Early 1980s,” was at A.I.R. in 2014 and she had a solo painting show at Accola Griefen Gallery in NY in 2013.
Bee has also had solo shows at the University of Pennsylvania, Kenyon College, Columbia University, William Paterson College, the New York Public Library, and Virginia Lust Gallery, and her work has been included in numerous group shows. She has a BA from Barnard College and a MA in Art from Hunter College. Her artwork is in many public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Princeton University Library, Getty Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Clark Art Institute, and Harvard University Library.
Bee has published sixteen artist’s books. She has collaborated with poets including: Johanna Drucker, Susan Howe, Charles Bernstein, and Jerome Rothenberg. Bee is the coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artist's Writings, Theory, and Criticism, Duke University Press, 2000, and the coeditor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online. Her artist’s book archive and the M/E/A/N/I/N/G Archive are at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Bee’s work has been reviewed in: Art in America, The New York Times, The New Yorker, ArtNews, The Brooklyn Rail, Artcritical, ArtSlant, The Forward, Huffington Post, Art Papers, and Hyperallergic. She won a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts in 2014 and has had fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Bee teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Brooklyn.