Susan Connolly’s Traces of an Activity demonstrates the artist’s playful exploration of paint, she is constantly experimenting and grappling with the possibilities of the medium and its surface. Although her work has a sculptural feel, she describes herself as a painter, one who is interested in creating work that explores the ‘extendable paint surface’ and pushes the boundaries of traditional theories and academic practices with the medium of paint. Connolly is curious about the different ways that you can ‘support’ paint (on a canvas or board) and how you might display a painting, often creating installations directly on the gallery wall or framing work off the wall with steel supports.
In this exhibition, we see Connolly’s ongoing explorations in repetitive layering, cutting, peeling and revealing. Paint, once cut and removed from its structural support reveals residues of its own activity and the alchemical transformation of the layering process. The artist investigates how materials can ‘make themselves’ through handling and process – i.e. the chemical combination in the layering of materials creates its own journey and its own rules, one the artist can’t fully control and so she has to allow the material and its possibilities lead her to a certain extent. Once she begins the cutting and revealing process, the outcome is never clearly defined.
M, B, C / Neon the large suspended canvas, moves painting beyond the wall and into the sculptural domain of floor and ceiling. In this work the painting holds and occupies the gallery space, inviting the viewer to both see and experience painting beyond the two-dimensional plane through its ‘frame/ing’ and methods of display.
In addition, we see a new series of works (2 – 10), a departure for Connolly, in which she has taken other artists’ palettes to create a new paint skin. Using a mix of gel and acrylic she lifts the surface of the palette, and creates a reproduction of the ‘traces of an (the artists) activity’, paintings both with and without the artist’s hand. The palette becomes a form of ready-made, representing the residue, the overlooked and disregarded decision making and labour created by other artists. With this series, we are invited to question the ownership, authorship and archiving of other artists’ palettes. Connolly is pushing the boundaries and challenging the the traditional uses of the medium of paint. She is interested in how the work may pose questions for the viewer as to whether it is painting or whether it is sculpture or another form of making.
Susan Connolly is a graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design, she holds an MFA from the University of Ulster, a first class honours MA from ACW, NCAD, Dublin and is currently a PhD candidate at Ulster University. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at The Lab, Dublin (2015), dlrLexicon, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin (2015), and The Sunken Gallery, The MAC, Belfast (2014). Recent awards include; The Golden Foundation, New York (2017).