New York

Susan Weil

Parsons Dreyfuss Gallery

Susan Weil’s work with mixed inks on rag paper explores the movement and change in natural elements, time and light of day. The horizon line, which is present in all the works, defines them as landscapes. The passage of time is described in transmutations of tone intensity and through physical processes inflicted on the paper, such as crumpling, folding and tearing.

There are three series which, when read sequentially, move us in small and large leaps from one state of day/nightlight to another. Onset and Sequens each have a succession of four sheets of paper from which a triangular section has been torn off down through the horizon and placed to the left of the sheet, filling in its neighbor’s missing corner. Having no cousin to its right, the paper on the far right retains its shear. This spatial bite indicates that the sequence begins at the right. In Sequens the movement is pursuant of the light, while Onset describes the exordium from day to night.

Aside from moving the sequences horizontally through time, the changing density of the inks records the quality of the air. Onset’s mottled surfaces result from progressive dilutions of the original black. The inks in Sequens are diluted more uniformly, producing a more even tenor.

Weil emphasizes the physical qualities of her paper. In the series described above, the sheets and their completing triangular segments are tacked to the wall only at the top, allowing the natural rolling proclivity of paper to assert itself at the bottom. Graceful ridges, as remarkable in consistency as the hand-torn triangular tears, are formed by the curving of the borders and torn edges. The triangular inserts curl, swinging out like doors, opening the passageway from one stage of the progression to the next.

Wherein the curling of paper provides a spatial, atmospheric inroad into the expanse, crumpling is a compression of the medium connoting a dense element—water. Fathom is affixed with a crumpled paper, washed with watery gray, which has the veinous, almost transparent quality of creatures living in the ocean depths. Gemini Nightfall has a crumpled wad of paper which traverses the horizon line and hides much of it from view. A few of the facets of the rumpled paper remain unpainted, relating to the white area below the horizon line and creating the impression that the horizon line is melting. This negation of the horizon’s constancy is countered in the upper section by the introduction of the Gemini configuration, constellations being fixed coordinates in the moving, changing world which Susan Weil explores.

Paper is folded in Dawning, another series made up of four sheets. Using the title as a directive, this piece is “read” from left to right, from the darkness to the light. The coming of dawn is dramatized by the successive (but not evenly progressive) folding over of the top of the paper in the sequence. As the folds become deeper, the washes get lighter and the white of the wall behind becomes the source of the dawn. Dawning is diagrammed not as a rising, but literally as a falling away, a folding over of night.

Intellectually we know that time passes, yet one can peer at a clock indefinitely without ever discerning the movement of its hands. Like time sequence photography, Susan Weil plays the illusion of standstill against the revelation of change.

Judith Lopes Cardozo

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