Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents the first New York City one-person show of paintings by Susan Lichtman, entitled In My House. Lichtman’s paintings describe interiors with figures drawn from her life. The paintings in this exhibition were part of her recent show at The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum in Hollins University, in Roanoke Virginia, a component of her tenure as the 2017 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence at Hollins.
Jennine Culligan, Director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, writes in the exhibition catalog, “Since 1987, the first floor of her home, her large studio a few steps away, and the daily comings and goings of her family have been her main source for compositions based on observation and imagination. She and her husband, painter Dennis Congdon, built their house and studios in the woods of southeastern Massachusetts on land adjacent to the property where Lichtman grew up. This rural home has become her center of place, and family, her muse.”
Lichtman is an intimist. in an interview with Larry Groff of Painting Perceptions she states, “I’ve always painted interior spaces, and am … influenced by all the European and American painters of domestic interiors, from the De Hooch and Vermeer, to Hopper and Porter. When I was young I saw the large Vaquez murals by Vuillard in the Petit Palais. I thought they were the most remarkable things I had ever seen. I still love Vuillard and the Nabis, Bonnard and Gwen John.”
Like Vuillard and Bonnard, Lichtman is a subtle colorist par-excellence, creating complex harmonies on a large scale. She states “To me, close-valued color is magical. It’s a way for the paint to imply the fiction of light and air. A palette of close values also gives the picture a kind of envelope into which everything is placed.”
Despite the apparently autobiographical details of her paintings, Lichtman is engaged in constructing a purely fictive space. She remarked, “painting needs to put forth an event, or an idea, that is purely visual.” In Rosa Moves Out we see a girl in a leather jacket on the verge of leaving home. Yet the central pictorial incident is the interplay between a grey-yellow chair and the extended wood stove pipe and grill. In Cookout the narrative interplay is contained within the reflections in a radiating yellow door frame.
Susan Lichtman is an Associate Professor of Painting at Brandeis University. Select recent shows include: List Gallery, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, Smith College, Northampton, MA, The Bannister Gallery at Rhode Island College and the Lenore Gray Gallery, Providence, RI as well as many other venues.