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Susan Bee: Monster Mitt at Lisa Cooley Gallery, April 3 – May 15

Lisa Cooley is pleased to announce Monster Mitt, a presentation of canvases by Susan Bee in the gallery office space. For the past 40 years, Bee has worked as a fine artist as well as a book artist, writer, teacher, and editor. As co-founder of M/E/A/N/I/N/G magazine, Bee’s prolific work as an editor situated and created a context rich with discourse around artists and themes unrepresented elsewhere. In her own practice as an artist she has produced prolifically, moving through photography, collage, and—most centrally since the early 1980s—painting.

The works from the early to mid 1990s exhibited in Monster Mitt represent an earlier phase in Bee’s investigation of painting, one in which the canvas is treated as an uneasy stage set for an array of collaged textures, motifs, and ready-made characters. Figures represented range from cartoon decals to Bee’s own children and are arranged amidst a variety of other (two- and three-dimensional) activities enacted on the surface of each canvas. Collaged elements bring together mass-produced vernacular with an expressive painterly landscape of gesture and mark-making.

One finds Bee’s characters relocated from their cheery origins to psychologically complex dramas, hovering in indeterminate, emphatically flattened surfaces. Combined with these figures are artifacts from Bee’s own personal life. Narrative fragments from her family appear, emphasizing a characteristic tension in the artist’s work between personal archeology and pop culture vernacular.

In the titular work, Monster Mitt (1990), a nightmarish abyss threatens to consume three cartoon animals whose languid expressions hover in a hazy, dark landscape. A hand-like form, emerging as if belonging to a bandaged burn victim—or presumably a monster clad in lace gloves—interrupts the foreground. The jarring but hypnotic effect created through these tableaux relates to Bee’s longstanding intellectual engagement with themes of psychoanalysis, motherhood, and the politics of painting.

Lisa Cooley
107 Norfolk Street
New York, New York 10002

April 3 – May 15, 2016
Reception: Sunday April 3, 6 – 8 pm

image: Susan Bee Monster Mitt 1990
Oil and collage on canvas 17 x 21 inches


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