‘"Pocket full of posy (all fall down)"’
Susan Whyne's 'Pocket full of posy (all fall down)' at D Berman Gallery is a dreamlike reflection of her emotions surrounding 9 / 11
Reviewed by Jacqueline May, Fri., March 11, 2005
Pocket full of posy (all fall down)
D Berman Gallery, through March 26
Susan Whyne's show at D Berman is a dreamlike reflection of her emotions surrounding the events of 9/11. The exhibition title sets the emotional tone. "Pocket full of posy (all fall down)" is from the children's rhyme, which contains a grim history all its own. The artist, a longtime New Yorker who relocated to Austin, was visiting London immediately prior to the attacks, and imagery from that trip forms an intrinsic part of the iconography for these large oil paintings.
Whyne's works, unassuming at first glance, unfold slowly in the mind to have a surprising impact. Pairs of smoking or burning objects are everywhere to be seen: a pair of urns in one untitled painting, flanked by an ominously floating pair of snakes. In another, also untitled, a pair of tall, black candlesticks, one still burning, and in yet another, a pair of floating jeweled butterflies. Similarly, storms overlap the cozy domestic scenes that they appear to threaten. Wrought-iron fences speak of barriers, of protection, while charming British tea sets are overturned to hint at disturbed domesticity. Water appears to be flooding the landscape in many of the works. An ashen color tonality is present throughout, layered over in some cases with brighter elements that have a flattened, newsprintlike quality.
Although these paintings are indeed dark, they are far enough into dream territory that they're not so much disturbing as mesmerizing. They left me thinking about the capacity of artists to serve as alchemists, transmuting pain into beauty. Spend some time with them, and you'll be rewarded.