Tag Archives: Deborah Butterfield

High Art and Craft: Becky Suss; Gehard Demetz; Deborah Butterfield

Becky Suss: Homemaker; at Jack Shainman, 513 W. 20th St. ,through June 3.

Gehard Demetz: Introjection, at Jack Shainman, 524 W. 24th St., through June 3.

Deborah Butterfield, at Danese/Corey, 511 W. 22nd St., through June 24.


As per several examples in the current Whitney Biennial, Becky Suss is among a number of committed young artists consciously engaged in representational painting in a continuum, yet finding a recognizably particularized niche–in Suss’s case, literally, through interiors.  Here, geometrically-sectioned and arranged rooms, softened by a uniform matte finish, featuring  juxtaposed patterns and faux-textures punctuated by personal objects and details of décor.  Her compositional spaces nod to both linear perspective and the vertical tilt of Japanese and Persian painting styles wherein ornamental passages become planes of their own.  From these pristine yet lived in, clue-filled surrounds viewers will delight in puzzling together a portrait of the inhabitant, who, among other things, prizes order and craftsmanship—in both the what and the how of the reality represented.

Home is not only where the heart is, but where Freudian drama festers—insinuated in the carved children of Gehard Demetz. Melancholic, menacing, nutcracker-ish and reliquary-like (occasional hollowed backs) with ghostly yet super-realist features, the crafted element is (again) highly compelling.  Supernatural under- and overtones suggest the psychic effects of early religious indoctrination vis-a-vis self-identity.

Deborah Butterfield continues to explore the psyches and souls of horses in these recent transcendent and majestic sculptures.  Her intensive long-term relationship with her subject (collectively; as individuals) is conveyed in the subtle animation, or put another way, the qi, that these life-size (especially) representations encapsulate.  The coup de grace is the tran-substantive medium: the apparent skeletal construction of each from worn and worked wood strips, branches and boughs is actually cast bronze with trompe l’oeil patina–one of a kind.  The hand-hewn assemblages are destroyed in the process. First time for everything: “must see.”