The Interaction of Light and Shadow: Susan English at Kathryn Markel

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Susan English, Still Light, 2022, tinted polymer on Dibond panel, 34 x 35 in. Courtesy of Kathryn Markel Fine Arts

To confront a person with their own shadow is to show them their own light.

– Carl Jung

In her current exhibition at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, Light to Light, Susan English explores the vagaries of light as it penetrates layers of polymer and pigment. Subtle gradations in color are infused with radiant light, recalling the sfumato in Van Eyck’s translucent skies or Cimabue’s blushing Virgins. The seamless transitions are achieved through the artist’s unorthodox technique of pouring thin layers of tinted polymer onto panels, then tilting the panels while the pigments settle and dry. The multiple layers interact with light to create varying effects – sometimes luminous, sometimes opaque – which are punctuated by cracks and blemishes in the medium as it dries. These accidents are essential to the piece, as they provide a counterbalance to the exquisite surfaces and tight control of their execution. Indeed, English manipulates the panel in such a way that crackling is anticipated, and she views the result as a simulation of the fissures and fractures found in nature.

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