The metamorphic figure | Susie Hamilton

I live and work in London (UK) and make paintings, drawings, etchings and monotypes. My work focuses on the single figure in a wilderness, which may be a frozen forest or an impersonal hotel foyer. The figures, often based on quick drawings from life, are abbreviated to the point of grotesqueness, and bright light bursts on them as painful exposure or destructive energy, which can obliterate or eat into the body.


two watercolours of old ladies
the massive ones

I paint in thin layers of acrylic and watercolour and these are allowed to burst boundaries and destroy contours to suggest the figure as mutating, vulnerable, and unstable. Such mutation is not just change within the human but beyond it. I turn my figures into non-human, hybrid things and into blots, blobs and abstract shapes. A representational image overtaken by abstraction in this way is important to me because it is an extreme way of challenging the figures’s identity and because it shows the familiar tipping over into the unfamiliar so that the named and legible world becomes threatened with nameless shapes. It is an attempt to get behind the everyday to a sensation of menace or mystery.


2 watercolours of old ladies
the heinous ones

My quick way of painting continues to abbreviate and transform the figure and this applies to the new ones in France as much as to the supermarket women. But while this may still suggest vulnerability it can also emphasise solidity and self possession. The new figures are made into shapes of strength and forceful confident beings. They can even seem dangerously aggressive in their matriarchal power.


Susie Hamilton, 2014