Telluride Gallery: Susan Sales, New Work

Telluride Gallery: Susan Sales, New Work

A show of new work by painter Susan Sales goes on display at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art Saturday, December 20.

Holiday Cheer

Holiday Cheer, 12 x 24″

Sales built her considerable reputation on color field paintings, first exhibiting images featuring the rich, polished surfaces she is associated with back in 1991. Eliminating figure and ground in favor of color and form, the work forces a focus on paint, color, surface, texture, and gesture, creating pseudo landscapes that “feature” the viewer in the “mirror” created by glossy, lacquer-like veneers that both contain and protect the raw emotions Sales paints into her canvasses.

And emotions ran high as Sales completed her most recent body of work.

Wine and Honey

Wine and Honey, 12 x 12″

“Life pushes us in unexpected directions. While I had no shortage of ideas for the new work, I did find myself with a shortage of time in the studio. Instead of months spent painting, I spent time out of town with family and friends waiting for God, “ explained the artist. “Three very special people in my life passed away within weeks. I had the honor to be with them and other loved ones through this process. When I returned from these absences, I sequestered myself in the studio and ran with everything I already had in process, grateful the Telluride Gallery was accepting of whatever I could deliver by the date of my planned exhibition. ‘Tis the season for us to reflect and consider what matters. It all matters, so choose carefully.”

Winter Afternoon

Winter Afternoon, 12 x 12″

Judging from the vibrancy and electric color of her new work, Sales chooses life. She choose affirmation  – although some of the darkness of recent moments does come through.

Sales’ work consistent begs comparisons to Mark Rothko, an Abstract Expressionist renowned for luminous, transcendental landscapes and in-your-face fields of color. While their formats are similar, however, the two artists part company based on intention: Rothko was after spiritual transcendence. For three decades, Sales primary interest remains her medium, oil paint, and color that works as well up close as at a distance.

Artist/philosopher Wassily Kandinsky wrote that color resonates emotionally. That goes double for Sales. That’s why they call it the blues. Sales is not known for blue. It is her reds, which in Kandinsky’s lexicon stimulate and excite the heart. In a Sales, there are no accidents when it comes to the way she juxtaposes her colors: the complement of blue is orange. Where they meet, the colors dance.

Midnight Sky

Midnight Sky, 12 x 12″

The “imperfections” in Sales’ work, the little brushwork that shows through larger swaths of color, are marks the artist intentionally left when she sanded down the paint and they are much like the marks left by primitive man on cave walls. They help tell the story of the origins of a particular painting. They are also a metaphor for Sales’ generally upbeat world view.

Check out her titles for confirmation – or Sales’ closing sentiment:

“Celebrate the present. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”


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