Dordrecht -- "She dances with plants, and puts the dance on paper." That's how poet Susan Chapman describes the paintings of the respected American artist Susan Fishgold, whose current exhibition opens on Saturday, August 31, together with Belgian artist Dominique Ampe, to begin the new exhibit season of the Stichting Verenigde Beeldende Kunstenaars (United Artists Association), of Dordrecht.
The New York artist gained recognition in the United States with the monotypes she has been creating since the 1970s, which are represented in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Smithsonian Institute (National Musuem of American Art) in Washington.
Although Fishgold and Ampe at first seem to have nothing in common -- his graphic drawings are put down with just a few very fine lines and just a few colors of purple, while her paintings leap out with bright and lavish colors -- both artists choose nature as the subject of their compositions.
"For a long time I used imagery of women for my celebratory paintings," Fishgold explained, "but I somehow had the feeling that I wasn't expressing deeply enough what I wanted to say. Right after I saw an exhibition of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in the '70s I knew what direction I had to take to best express my feelings. I was so struck by his colors, and the power that came out of those colors. It definitely gave my work a different direction. It changed my work forever, the way my work went after that."
Nature is the starting point for Fishgold's work, and particularly compositions of leaves, branches and flowers. "Everything in nature is always moving, and I like to catch that in my work. I try to show that constant movement of nature, and the gracefulness and the elegance of nature, in my work. For example, a flower, from the very first moment that its bud opens up, is moving every day, and even when the flower dies, it still has a certain gracefulness, a certain elegance that I try to show.
The monotype process used by the artist is unique. After first drawing the composition on a transparent plate, ink is applied to the plate and the wet ink transferred to paper or canvas by pressing the plate by hand, instead of a mechanical press. This process is repeated several times, overprinting different colors, producing a relief depth in the work. Additional colors and lines are directly added later.
"By doing the pressing by hand several times, one over another, it becomes textural. I achieve almost a sculptural effect," Fishgold said.
About her use of color, which calls to mind Expressionism, Fishgold says, "For some reason color affects how I feel and expresses how I feel better than I can explain. The color, and the movement, that really is how I feel."
Rotterdams Dabglad, The Netherlands, Anneke DeBundel, Aug. 30, 1991