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Susan Bee



The Slap (2012), Gun Crazy (2011), and Cover Up (2010) are from a series of paintings that are based on stills from films, mostly noirs. This series of small oil paintings dramatize the power relationships between the white male and female characters through the lens of those dark, violent films of the 1940s and 1950s. Black and white film stills are the pictorial basis of these oil paintings. The keyed-up colors, energetic patterns and painterly abstractions that also populate these pieces, make them psychologically complex. These works are filled with tension as well as tenderness. I remain intrigued by the dangerous women and the desolate men in the post World War II film noirs. These works bring into focus the power of the individual faces and bodies and their relationship to the painted ground and also their relation to each other. I emphasize the dynamic between the figures. The focus of the paintings is on these relationships as well as the psychological space and violent emotions that are carved out among the people that I’m portraying. The paintings confront, without resolving or sublimating, gender roles and power relationships.