Photographer Susan Paulsen’s fourth solo exhibition in New York City will be on view at Deborah Bell Photographs from May 6 through June 30, 2016. Since her last exhibition in 2011 at Deborah Bell Photographs, Paulsen has been experimenting further with abstraction, nude studies and portraiture on a larger scale.
In her new color work, Paulsen explores the possibilities of studio photography with the passion of new-world explorer, always happy to find (or create) a subtle variation in the tabletop landscape that can be embraced with intensity and a feeling of discovery. Paulsen's work incorporates a consistent use of line and reflection to frame the subject and invite the viewer to enjoy sometimes ambiguous and pleasurably stimulating visual representation.
The rich and vivid color of Paulsen's prints call to mind that of classical Dutch painting. Details of household items, a sitter’s lustrous hair, folds of drapery and calming still-life compositions, bathed in subtle yet luminous natural light, are reminiscent of Vermeer and the Renaissance masters in their delicate yet brilliant tone, and in the arrangement of subject matter.
In his perceptive and eloquent essay for Paulsen’s first book, Tomatoes on the Back Porch, the filmmaker Robert Benton states, “Ms. Paulsen has a feeling for the mystery of ordinary life.” He describes her images as being “about the magic of the everyday, those things we take for granted and which, once they are gone, remain in our memories and our hearts with painful clarity.” And, he directs the viewer, “You will notice they chart a map of that most ephemeral zone we call intimacy.” He adds that, while much of art is discussed in terms of its form, Paulsen's work is about life.
Paulsen was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1957. Her 2004 exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, and at The Arkansas Arts Center in 2014, received international acclaim. Steidl has published three books of Paulsen's photographs: Tomatoes on the Back Porch (2004); Sarah Rhymes with Clara (2011); and Wilmot (2012).