Sarah Sutton's monochromatic oil paintings are landscape paintings and psychological terrains. They are stuffed with representational narrative while frequently veering into fields of abstraction. They combine images and collide them. They are exploded views filled with imploded moments. They emit an aura of cacophony while resonating with interior structures and repeating patterns. They present themselves as cohesive, singular, all-encompassing entities which are nonetheless constructed by thousands of the tiniest painterly marks. Their entireties push us back to take it all in while their details pull us forward, resisting any singular resolution of pictorial space. They are maddeningly vexing and undeniably beautiful. They are moments of dread mixed with breathless epiphanies.
The overall visual terrain is never fixed, with smaller scenes swirling within the larger landscape elements, sometimes so small they can be easily missed without virtually pressing against the work. Sutton plays with scale and the viewer's expectations simultaneously, demanding perpetually shifting distances from which to consider the paintings. Not merely because there are larger and smaller paintings, but detail and resolve modulate perennially inside single works. There are strong optical and psychological effects that derive from this painterly manipulation. Things are concealed and revealed simultaneously as our eyes dart about, wondering where to land and what to consider.
Representation and abstraction are among the major elements that collude visually in Sutton's work. It's not readily apparent where one ends and another begins. There is a rapturous quality to her painting style that blends the two in a fluid manner that suggests that these images constructed from disparate and disjunctive elements are somehow configured as they should be, which is her effective resolution of the painterly space. Within this, her mark making is not singular—sometimes lush and languid, sometimes sharp and abrupt—but is always directed toward making the visual cacophony a singular whole.
Excerpts from Exhibition Catalogue Essay written by John Massier, Curator, Hallways Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY