Suzanne Song: Open Surface

27 December 2018 - 9 February 2019
Installation Views
Press release

Gallery Baton is pleased to present a solo exhibition Open Surface with the new works by Korean American artist Suzanne Song (b. 1974) from December 27th, 2018 to February 9th, 2019. Suzanne Song has been exploring ’space’ as a nonmaterial being and a conceptual object. To Song, the reproduced subject, space, is not something that can be defined in philosophical or physical terms but a 'specific and concrete space' that can be compiled and collected in her perceptual domain through experience. The viewer perceives this 'space' with a familiar feeling because this 'space' reminds one of the commonplace walls of schools, public institutions, and office spaces in many cultures.


In 2015 for Song’s first solo exhibition Intervals at Gallery Baton, she showed a series of paintings composed of dark gray lower sections and white or light gray upper parts to represent her own specific ‘space.' The titles such as Reface or Re-Re-Re-Re add a verbal playfulness to the related images. These works feature linear division which runs vertically through the entire picture plane. The geometric patterns combined with their corresponding shadows transform the two dimensional painting into a multidimensional work, where pictorial juxtapositions such as space vs. space, line and surface, vertical and horizontal division make the geometric relations come to life. The shadows, especially, not only work to bring the flat surface into multi dimensions, but also give the illusion of multiple spaces existing in various time frames.


In Song’s new works, the technique of combining porous rock such as pumice in powder form and acrylic paint to buildup several overlapping layers physically imitates more closely the space she works to represent, specifically certain building interiors. It is interesting how the technique adds a visually realistic touch to the image. Because of the particular characteristic of the materials used, long periods of drying time is required between each layer. This waiting process and the volume accumulated by overlapping multiple layers is very similar to basic building techniques in architecture. The repeated layering of the pumice  and paint mixture creates a physical volume on the applied surface as a positive space,  consequently creating a furrow on the unapplied surface as a negative space. This action not only makes the conventionally regarded concept of 'space' become accepted as a necessary sensorial element in real life, but also documents the process of a natural substance such as rock powder transforming into an artificial manmade object.


The true color of pumice and its shadows spread out on an artificial wall and its visual and material characteristics become the main focus of representation. These details emphasize the geometrically rigorous and minimalistic aspects of the work. At the same time, the handmade tactile quality that comes from the process of building up layers of organic material helps realize the manifestation of 'accumulated disciplinary performance' which is also an important constituent of Song’s work.


Suzanne Song has received the B.F.A. from Clemson University and the M.F.A. from Yale School of Art at Yale University. Song has presented her work at The Drawing Center, New York; Doosan Gallery, New York. Her recognitions include the Smack Mellon Studio Fellowship, George R. Bunker Award (Yale University), and the New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship. She lives and works in New York City.