Suzanna Vangelov presents her first solo exhibition with .M Contemporary titled Outsider Inside. This exhibition offers a cathartic retelling of kindred histories close to the artist through material experimentation and labour. Outsider Inside brings together themes of kinship, interconnectedness and passage. Vangelov’s practice is informed by embodied memory and an active involvement of the body in the process of making. Her methodology involves working patiently through the sensations, emotions and memories that surface throughout the act of creation. Through a series of rhythmic movements and gesture, Vangelov maps out the surface of her paintings based on feeling and an attentive listening to her own inner workings. The outcome of her practice is not only about the physical work produced but what is learnt throughout the process.
Often using natural elements such as the wind and rain to produce particular pigmentations and patterns, Vangelov’s works explore our relationship with the natural world. Her works collaborate with and respond to various weather conditions and the changing environment around her. The ecological formations and patternation of her paintings are an extension of Vangelov’s belief that we are one with the natural world. Her practice calls attention to how deeply interconnected we are as human beings with all that surrounds us. Throughout the exhibition, Vangelov’s paintings display points of connection and separation relating to both nature and kinship. In Descent to the Dark Sea she has depicted what could be understood as bodies of water pooling just out of reach of one another. Temperance on the other hand renders two shapes connected by an acute edge or mountain peak. Just as rivers widens, basins swell and tides rise, we too move, change and transition throughout our lives. We are as fluid and everchanging as the deep blue sea.
Outsider Inside maps a recent personal journey for Vangelov through grief and loss. Her works generously invite us to explore this passage alongside her and encourage a wandering through our own inner landscapes. Arenas of indigo blue, red and bronze ochre, and black mark out unknown territories and form thresholds, routes and roads. These are pigments that have held great spiritual and cultural significance throughout history in guiding life from one existence into another. For Vangelov, these tones hold a close connection to her late father who, before his passing, would describe to her the same recurring dream. In this dream, he would travel high up a mountain in his home country of Macedonia in search of his village. Despite his efforts he was never quite able to reach it. Between dreams, he would describe an all-enveloping deep blue. In learning of these experiences, Vangelov immersed herself amongst a sea of powdered pigments in order to recreate her father’s journey through poetic visual abstraction.
Outisder Inside introduces new material propositions within Vangelov’s practice including steel structures Envelop II and Crux which symbolise thresholds between material realities. They are the doorways that lead us through chapters of our lives and into new lifetimes. Encountered initially as a fork in the road or obstacle, these sculptural elements in the exhibition offer a metaphor for the more difficult moments in our lives that can often lead us to profound awakenings. Outsider Inside offers a poignant meditation on passage and the patience required to move through the unknown. Vangelov’s exhibition is a celebration of the colours that map our lifetimes.
Nikki van der Horst