“These watercolors were made in one day last week. Lately I’ve had to change location a few times, and am often confused about where I am and what I should be doing. That grey September day, confined to my tiny NYC apartment, I was wondering what to paint. AND I was reading, first Colette, then Proust on Chardin, and thinking about the beauty of prosaic things, longing for the pastoral. While dithering over what kind of work to make for you, I finally noticed the jug of sunflowers and my box of watercolors on the table which is now my studio. What else could I do? Both so luminous, colorful and well known. The blue vase, yellow flowers and a feeling of autumn gardens had me picking up my brushes and before I knew it I was painting.”
Susanna Coffey’s portraits are investigations of the iconic human head. The work is driven by questions about what a portrait image can mean. What is a beautiful appearance? Why do conventionally gendered images involve caricature? Can inchoate feeling-states be adequately portrayed? Meticulously observed, most works show her in many guises and locations: under dramatic lighting, highly costumed, inside a studio, within landscapes, foliage, places of fiery devastation, and amidst phantasmagoric patterns. Some portraits seem almost entirely abstract with only the barest suggestion of a human face.
Coffey’s artwork has been exhibited in many museums including The Weatherspoon Art Museum, The Aldrich Museum, The Hood Museum, The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work is in the collections of The Yale University Art Gallery, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Minneapolis Museum of Art, The National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., The Karamay Museum of Art, Xinjiang China and Museum of Contemporary Art, Seville, Spain, among others. Among her awards are The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. Susanna Coffey lives and works in New York City.
Susanna Coffey’s work is represented by Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects in New York City, Alpha Gallery in Boston and Galeria Isabel Ignacio in Seville, Spain.