Susie Hamilton – In Conversation with Anna McNay
In the second of a series of online in conversation events with artists, Susie Hamilton speaks about her new series of work of Covid-19 doctors to art writer and journalist Anna McNay.
About Susie Hamilton
Concerned with the human condition and the solitary existence of individuals, Hamilton’s paintings condense figures into a couple of suggestive brush strokes, stranded in darkness or light. Even when clustered together, Hamilton’s paintings evoke a pang of loneliness: they offer snapshots capturing that sense of isolation and existential angst we have all felt during moments of despair.
‘I see my figures as part of a world of power and dynamism,’ Hamilton explains, ‘but they themselves are struggling in that world, vulnerable to things that are more powerful than they are. […] I’d like them to communicate something about the restless, comic, unfinished, untidy spectacle of life.’
Her painterly techniques, such as adding Fairy Liquid to acrylic paint so that it makes ‘blooms’ on the canvas and using watery acrylic so that it seeps over the boundaries of the figures, add to this battle for existence, and, in her quest to communicate economically – albeit creating intensity through compression – Hamilton’s figures are often reduced to mere blots and specks of paint. Some appear to effervesce at their edges, merging with the background in a Baselitz-esque smear. Metamorphosis, central to all her work, includes metamorphosis into abstraction through which an identifiable image is turned into something unnamed and mysterious.
An English graduate, married to a playwright, Hamilton is, unsurprisingly, greatly influenced by literature. Hamilton’s works capture the inescapability of the human condition, its loneliness and its Sisyphean repetition.
Over the past weeks, Hamilton has been producing a series of strikingly immediate acrylic-on-paper images of gowned and masked doctors ministering to Covid-19 patients, working from an improvised studio in her kitchen. The images are derived from front-line pictures provided by one of her collectors, Peter Collins, a consultant hepatologist and deputy director at the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston. Hamilton also uses news footage taken from television and online. ‘Like everyone else I am deeply scared by what is happening and I have been since back in January,’ she says. ‘I wanted to imagine that I was lying on the bed in a position of helplessness with the doctors looming over me.’
Hamilton is represented by Paul Stolper Gallery.
About Anna McNay
Anna McNay is a freelance art writer and editor. She contributes regularly to Art Quarterly (Art Fund’s magazine, where she was previously Assistant Editor), Studio International, Photomonitor, Elephant magazine, Norwegian Arts, and The Flux Review, and has been widely published in a variety of other print and online art and photography journals and newspapers. She has written numerous catalogue essays, edited a number of books, and regularly hosts panel and in conversation events at galleries around London.
Friday 12th June
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