By Judi Huck
“Artists get to embark on the greatest adventures of the world, about – universality, unity.” – Barnett Suskind, member of Mana’s Originals.
Barnett Suskind and the Creative Process
Barnett Suskind works in Studio 464 at Mana Contemporary and comes in about six days a week.
“Communication is always the goal,” Barnett insists. “For the viewer, art is a way to listen with your eyes. For the maker, art is a way to relate with viewers. You can take three weeks to teach someone how to draw, but you can’t teach them to have something profound to say.”
Barnett studied art history and is influenced by many painters. He says his art has undergone cycles, for instance his German Expressionist period. He began as a sculptor, and over time has alternated between abstract and figure work. “Although sculpture is very sensual, fabrication is an issue. Painting, on the other hand, is much more cerebral.” Barnett reveals that he used to refer to his studio as “the lab.”
Interestingly, Barnett didn’t discover art through a conscious process. Art sort of found him. Creating his first sculpture was such an incredible experience that he had to stop and take art seriously. Barnett ultimately found that art is where he was most present.
When he’s creating he constantly asks himself, “Is this going to be visible in 100 years?” According to Barnett, art’s responsibility is to be both timely and timeless.
Works at Mana Contemporary
Currently in Barnett’s studio, there is a series of portraits and larger-than-life female nudes. To some paintings, he applies a Renaissance underpainting technique, building layer upon layer of depth and color.
“You can’t think about time when it comes to making art,” he says, “When you start to do that, it becomes more about production.
“The exhilarating and terrifying thing about being an artist is taking risks. We never know how something will land. In my case, I wonder, ‘How abstract can I push the figure? How far can you go into abstraction and still communicate something?’”
Barnett explains how we are physiologically wired to see faces and how there’s a delicate balance between visuals that emotionally resonate and those that are imprinted by producing shock. He smiles and says how satisfying it is when someone leaves his studio and later tells him, “I still remember those images.”
from the Mana Contemporary album on Facebook
Additional works by Barnett Suskind can be viewed on the artist’s website.