BLACK CLOUD REACHES BROOKLYN
mixed media on canvas
signed, titled and dated 2002 on the stretcher
14 ins x 21 ins; 35.6 cms x 53.3 cms
“It took me a good ten years to figure out how to engage the city, how to draw it, how to paint it, how to picture it…it wasn’t exactly about its look, it’s more about its being.”
Susanna Heller’s unique relationship with New York City is expressed through her dense and dynamic paintings of buildings, monuments and aerial views of the city and its boroughs. She views New York as an animated character and is compelled to capture, in pencil and paint, its vibrancy, space, and above all, its movement. As an artist in residence in Tower I of the World Trade Center just two years before its destruction in 2001, Heller reacted to the devastation through her artwork, becoming “…the most authoritative artistic chronicler of the 9/11 disaster, walking from her Williamsburg apartment over the bridge to Manhattan almost every day for four months to document the ruins, producing smouldering charcoals and paintings that bore witness to chaos in tortured, incredulous, and sometimes exultant strokes, dabs and jabs.”
Heller’s paintings of New York after September 11 radiate a chaotic energy as seen in Black Cloud Reaches Brooklyn (2002). A bird’s-eye view depicts a black, billowing cloud traversing New York City towards Brooklyn. Thick black lines, daubs of red pigment and fragments of torn paper and canvas, perhaps symbolizing the jettisoned building materials from Ground Zero, accentuate the gravity of the subject matter. To balance the sense of upheaval, Heller included a blue meandering horizontal line (likely the East River) and a solitary green space in the foreground providing respite for the viewer from an otherwise tumultuous landscape.
Susanna Heller has an extensive exhibition history in North America and beyond and is a recipient of numerous awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. Her works are included in major collections such as The Air Canada Corporation (Montréal), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Canada Council Art Bank (Ottawa) and the Toronto Dominion Bank as well as in many private collections around the world. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Milroy, Sarah. Susanna Heller: Catastrophe as Muse. Accessed 27 February, 2015. canadianart.ca/reviews/2012/02/16/susanna_heller/
Susanna Heller. Online video clip. Vimeo. Vimeo, Feb, 2013. Accessed 24 February, 2014. https://vimeo.com/60628028
Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto