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SUZAN WOODRUFF: BACK FROM THE EDGE

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Date: 
Saturday, 11 May 2024 to Saturday, 8 June 2024
Opening: 
Saturday, 11 May 2024 - 10:00am

Billis Williams Gallery is pleased to present SUZAN WOODRUFF: BACK FROM THE EDGE, the gallery’s first solo exhibition by the Los Angeles-based painter.  The exhibition features the artist's new paintings and monumental sculpture and continues through June 8th.

With a career spanning four decades, Suzan Woodruff is well known for her luminous, ethereal, and yet deeply grounded abstractions.  Utilizing a physically demanding painting process, Woodruff creates paintings that are marked by cascading patterns that seem to change as the eye moves across the painting - colors shift, forms appear and recede, the light changes.  Woodruff’s mastery of her medium is haunting in its beauty - transfixing and transforming.

Born in Phoenix, AZ, Woodruff’s creative life began at an early age.  Raised by her gold-prospector grandparents who taught her how to read rocks and by her desert-bohemian mother, Woodruff immersed herself in the desert’s infinite spaces, stark light, and spectacular vistas.   She received an art scholarship to Arizona State University where she studied printmaking, painting, and sculpture followed by apprenticeships with printmakers and artists including Shinkichi Tajiri while building her own career.  Over her decades in the art world, Woodruff has done everything from large scale murals to pocket sized illustrations.  As her career grew, she left the Southwest for Los Angeles and then New York.  Eventually Woodruff permanently settled in Los Angeles - a city where urban grit, desert starkness, and striking natural light collide.

Woodruff’s early work is marked by hints of what has become her signature cascading patterns.  In 2003, Woodruff designed her gravity easel - an omni-directional pivoting table that can hold a 10x6 foot painting.  Working closely with Jack Brogan, noted fabricator to the California Light & Space artists of the last 60 years, Woodruff’s vision was brought to reality and the gravity easel, in multiple sizes, became central to her work, allowing her to push her paintings to new levels of complexity. 

Informed by ancient wisdom of the natural world and  the new knowledge of science and space, Woodruff’s goal is to capture every strand of the cosmos in her compositions.  These immense goals for the work are belied by the effortlessness of her compositions - they are free and elegant and eternal.

Over the last five years, Woodruff has survived the darkness of three major surgeries and radiation for near-lethal oral cancer. The surgeries left her unable to eat or speak for almost three years.  For the first years after the main surgery, Woodruff’s focus was surviving - she describes a blur of just getting through each day.  Returning to painting became a distant hope.  Although eating and speaking remain difficult, Woodruff is driven by an internal fortitude - she pushed herself back into her studio practice with steadfast determination.  

Life has been radically altered for the whole world in the last years - COVID changed so many aspects of people’s lives.  Layered onto top of that for Woodruff was an experience few will ever understand.  There is no comprehending for those outside - and yet what Woodruff has done is what artists for eons have done - to excavate the depths of their personal experiences in their work.  Woodruff has poured the emotional energy of one who has returned from the far edges of a soul crushing illness into her work - there is an exquisite joy to these works - a wonder, an exhilaration.

Woodruff’s new work is a revelation.  It is the very embodiment of the sublime.  To stand in front of Woodruff’s large compositions is to experience the transcendent moment of wonder at the world.  As the eye wanders through the forms, the mind goes to nature, to space, to the micro and the macro, to the wonder of light, to the experience of true joy.  And as one moves in front of the paintings, they change - colors shift, forms appear and recede, the light changes.  Woodruff’s mastery of her medium is haunting in its beauty - transfixing and transforming.

For all press inquiries, please contact 310.838.3685 or gallery@billiswilliams.com

Opening Reception Hours: Saturday, May 11, 4-7pm

Artist ( Description ): 

Suzan Woodruff was born in Phoenix, AZ, and studied at Arizona State University before apprenticing with noted artists and sculptors.  Woodruff’s paintings have been exhibited internationally including shows throughout the United States as well India, Australia, and Hungary.  Her work has been published in Architectural Digest, Art Ltd, ARTWEEK, Fabrik, Flavorpill, Huffington Post, LA Weekly, and White Hot, among many others. She lives and works in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist Bruce Bauman, and their two dogs.

Venue ( Address ): 

2716 S. La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Billis Williams Gallery , Los Angeles

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