Thought many artists eagerly set down the pallet knife and paintbrush decades ago in pursuit of other, more nontraditional media and concepts, Susanne Forestieri has remained loyal to the discipline of traditional painting, making it her own as she depicts contemporary life in its in-between moments.
Her works of intimate scenes, separated from the rest of the chatter — family and friends, lounging (but not posing) on a couch, talking on the phone, dressing or conversing — have so much power. What she chooses to leave out and replace with a semi-abstract or dreamy monochromatic background creates a kind of visual poetry that viewers can slip into and walk around in. Like a good book, you can find yourself carrying on in someone else's life.
In Reminiscenes: Friends, Family, Showgirls and Color, on exhibit through March 28 at the Nevada Humanities office in Art Square, that life is most definitely hers, but the narrative that emerges reads like excerpts from a delicious novel. Even those that are posed — her parents standing on a beach in the ’70s (he in his Speedo and her in her suit and T-shirt) — seems a portal with a welcome sign above it.
“People respond the most deeply to the most personal work,” she says. “At first that surprised me. When you reach deep inside yourself, it seems to strike some universal chord that others respond to on an unconscious level.”
It's difficult not to. The former New Yorker, who got her early training at the Art Student's League in the early ’70s, took from that experience a love of painting in natural light, spending her career in search of truth and beauty through gestural works with layers of color, always dominated by an astute understanding of light.
In Reminiscenes, a large dreamy landscape of the artist lying pregnant on the beach in a gold summer dress with her mother next to her, hangs beside a portrait of her young parents (her father, who died of a stroke when she was young, faded out as a memory). From there, the works launch into the rest of the story.
The show brings together a selection of works from the 1970s onward, highlighting Forestieri's skill while simultaneously doubling as a box of photos, found by someone, somewhere, and revealing a pleasant surprise of memories from someone's past — you weren't there for them, but for a minute, you experience the life and its narrative anyway.
Reminiscenes: Friends, Family, Showgirls, and Color, Susanne Forestieri
1-5p Monday-Friday, through March 28. Reception and artist talk, 6-9p, March 1, 1017 S. First Street, Suite 190, 702-800-4670