Suzanne Redstone - Drawing with Light
I was born in 1945 and spent my early years growing up on Long Island, New York. My mother gave me her paints and blank canvases to keep me out of trouble, and I was given the run of the attic to paint in. One of the first paintings that I did, when I was 13 years old, was a silhouetted roof scape from my attic studio at twilight. There is a last glow in the clear sky, a quality of illumination and fascination with light that runs throughout my work.
When I was 17 I was awarded a place at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In 1965, in my final year there, I was selected to participate in the RISD European Honours Program to study in Rome for the year. There I was influenced by the architecture of the piazzas and palaces, the colours, the markets, the spirit of the Italians, and the paintings of Piero della Francesca. Yet I was also looking at the work of Theo Van Doesburg and Joseph Albers, Vasarely and Van Gogh. In order to bring discipline into my work I decided to paint with only the right angle and 45 degree angle on Masonite board. For colours, I would only use the primary colours with Paynes grey and white, in acrylic paint. This imposed structure and helped me find my own artistic language.
Coming home to New York after a year of personal and artistic freedom was difficult. By day I was working at the American Federation of Arts in Manhattan. At night and weekends, I painted in the basement of my father’s dental office in Bayside. The basement was lit only by fluorescent light and I was far from any landscape, yet this proved to be a prolific period exploring the discipline I had adopted in Rome. The large body of work from this period was never shown at the time and is only now finding an audience.
In September 1968, I was awarded a teaching fellowship and began my Masters of Fine Art degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. The studios were also lit largely by hardedged artificial light. My teaching fellowship was with the sculptor Robert Engman, himself a protégé of Josef Albers, the artist and educator who had brought the Bauhaus style of working to the United States. Engman influenced my thinking by placing even more emphasis on form and function, exploring and discovering the unique qualities different materials had to offer.
Suzanne Redstone 2015
Suzanne Redstone creates environments that collect and reveal the ephemeral nature and materiality of light. Through changing media and form she engages the viewer in an open and unpredictable dialogue.
“My practice focuses on revealing light – working with it, catching and exposing it; exploiting the changing movement of light as the earth rotates daily and through the year. My work is a learning process in which I continuously strive for simplicity and clarity.”
The exhibition at Lemon Street Gallery presents 29 works by Suzanne Redstone that reveal the enduring fascination with light that has inspired her studio practice over five decades. With an emphasis on new sculptures made from robust materials including stainless steel, powder-coated steel, aluminium, stone and marble, the display also includes rarely seen early plaster relief works and watercolours that reveals the artist’s transition from working in two-dimensions to three-dimensions.
“Light is in the air. It is everywhere. It surrounds us, fuels us, enables us to see and is forever changing. However, it is easy to lose awareness of light’s qualities and those of other energy fields in our environment and take them for granted. In a sense, light becomes ‘invisible’ and we desensitize ourselves in order to experience our physical everyday surroundings.”
Suzanne Redstone is a British/American artist who has been living and working in Devon for the past 40 years. She is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptures and her influences and artistic connections are rich. She was mentored by Robert Engman – himself a student of Josef Albers of the Bauhaus – and herself taught students of the celebrated architect Louis Kahn. Her work is included in private collections in London, New York and Beverly Hills.