JEFFERY COPLOFF GALLERY | MAY 4 - JUNE 2, 2001
In the current exhibit, Suzan Batu presents paintings reduced to complementary pairs of colors such as a cool blue and hot pink, and even benign battleship gray and dull orange create an unexpected thrill. Soft edges and seductive surfaces render Batu’s works’ pulsating tones almost palpable. Each painting is its own self-contained world, and at once denies entrance and intimates proliferation.
An exclusive vocabulary of stylized floral and calligraphic figures on a static ground recall Batu’s Turkish roots. The images would not lie still on a carpet or conform to a vessel but seem to want to get up and dance. The flatness and symbolism of Eastern tradition yields to the Western notion of the painting as a kind of abstract arena. While intimations of natural forms, such as continents adrift or aquatic animals, the laconic Brownian movement breaks in a frisson in the larger square canvases. The figures whip around like scythes or jellyfish tendrils, sometimes stopping to spread embarrassingly into bulbous protrusions, sometimes coming to rest as polite dots. The arbitrary shapes could just as easily be the patterns of camouflage as warm, saline spawning grounds. The only thing that can be relied on here is the edges of the paintings against the white walls.
It is also important to note what is excluded from these abstractions. There is no place for a grid or any other kind of spine or structure here, except in an idiosynchratic order in a wholly imaginary construct. The scenes, with their psychedelic ambivalence and splendor, have roots in the art curlicues of Aubrey Beardsley and even in Edvard Munch’s chilly Fertility, whose initial promise of luscious vermilion berries gives way to a sinister claustrophobia