Lawrence Asher Gallery presents two women artists sharing their passion for and celebration of contemporary expressions of self and gender. Lisa Adams and Susannah Bettag come from different cities and different backgrounds, but they share an exquisite talent for celebrating contemporary femininity through profound literal and figurative imagery. Ms. Adams calls on vast experience and reflects a full, established career at yet another crossroad while Ms. Bettag ventures to the big city with all the charm, wit and fearlessness we expect from an anointed, established darling.
LAG is located at 5820 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and adjacent to the Craft and Folk Art Museum.
From Lisa Adams' Artist Statement
" The long and personally challenging process that brought me to art making involved a reclamation of my own freedom as a woman living in the world today. I try in my work to embody my own sense of what it is to be alive, to
encapsulate the difficulties in being human, experiencing all the itinerant shadings of joy, sadness, rage and despair, the things I am sometimes afraid
to look straight in the face. Most of my paintings ask difficult questions both of me and of the viewer. These questions comprise a larger aesthetic that infuses my interest in spiritualism, pathos and the strangely complicated and enigmatic discourse between human beings.
"The images that reappear in my work again and again derive from a deeply felt psychologically charged aesthetic, one in which ideas of personal
integrity merge with larger, more universal concerns.
"In my most recent work, I combine spiritually referential elements--images
of flora with ethereal backgrounds--to create a tension between the
unexpected and the predictable and to create for myself a "safe" space in
which to imagine. I don't want to believe in the paradigms by which we all live
however they are unavoidable, and I try in my work to subvert them, if only
to prove to myself that it can be done." - Lisa Adams, April, 2007
Lisa Adams is a painter and public artist who lives and works in Los
Angeles, California. Ms. Adams graduated with a B.A. in Painting from
Scripps College in Claremont, California, and received her M.F.A. from the
Claremont Graduate University.
She is the recipient of a Fulbright Professional Scholar Award, a Brody Arts Fund Fellowship and a Durfee ARC Grant. Her work is in the collections of Eli Broad, The Frederick Weisman Museum and the Laguna Museum of Art.
She has taught in many reputed art departments throughout the Los Angeles area and abroad, including the University of Southern California, the
Claremont Graduate University and Otis College of Art & Design in Los
In addition to her practice as an artist, Ms. Adams works as an independent curator who, in 2000, co-founded Crazy Space, an alternative exhibition space in Santa Monica. She is also the author of "FM*," (Peeps Island
Press, 1999) a How To book about painting based on her teachings at the
Santa Monica College of Design, Art and Architecture between 1997-1999.
Ms. Adams has been an artist-in-residence in Slovenia, Finland, Japan,
Holland and Costa Rica. Her work has been exhibited nationally and
internationally. She was also commissioned by BMW of North America to paint
an ArtCar. She has been included in A Day in the Life of the American
Woman, Bullfinch Press, 2005, and is currently working on a public art
commission for the new Fire Station No. 64 in Watts.
From Susannah Bettag's Artist Statement
"A sense of humor and cynicism is integral to the way my paintings are presented and the questions they ask. They are not works of feminist political critique. Instead they reflect the often-confusing internal landscape and external surroundings with which we all live as well a personal investigation into fantasy and imagination. Furthermore, they are intended to be exquisite objects, ones that give the viewer a visceral sense of pleasure. The small paintings are perfect little glossy, yummy objects to hold and treasure, each one a colorful jewel with an encapsulated slice of story. The large paintings are full of contrasts, built up of layers that both hide and highlight. These paintings depict an exploration of fantasy, both personal and fantastical. They touch on the always-alluring topic of sex; and viewers react to each painting differently as they add their personal layer of fantasy interpretation. The intricate details echo the chaos of internal contemplation; and in their complexity and obsessiveness, they reference the high level of detail and craft of traditional women's art (the sampler, the quilt, the needlepoint). The nudes, pulled from hardcore pornography, reference the traditional nude, the odalisque, but their overt sexuality shocks, disturbs and titillates. Entwined with them both are intricate and delicate symbols, reflecting the subconscious. The paintings are a catalyst for the transformation of the subconscious into the material.
"Approaching the paintings is a journey unto itself. They are time bombs of content and meaning, of color and feelings. And it’s in seeing the layers unfold that the work reveals its goals and vitality. From a distance, the swarms of finely detailed small objects—which include unknown sexually-charged seeming body parts, headless snakes, swarms of vulva-like shapes, blood cells, meat—stand out. Colors behind these items, however, invite closer inspection. And as the viewers walk closer, they see more. In and among the pools and fountains of illustrated daily- life items, they see creatures and faces. Looking even closer, one perceives that behind everything is a large-scale close up of women: Women entwined and women unclothed, drawn from the male-gaze of pornography. In this moment—when one sees the hardcore images, huge, behind the precisely- articulated, tiny images in the foreground—the contrasts become clear.
"My work touches on the always-alluring topic of sex but with a fusion of whimsy and irony. The contrasts within the paintings encourage questions as to what is real and what is fantasy, what is mine (or yours) and what is adopted. The paintings even challenge the viewer to choose what to look at - the details of the tiny hidden stories, the interplay of color or the graphic large nude pictures. The objects and their context turn into a visual vocabulary that provoke more difficult questions on subjects such as sexuality and self worth. The paintings allow the transformation of fantasy and subconscious into the material. As the viewer considers the paintings, I hope they notice and examine their reactions to the complex imagery and the vibrant environment. This work asks more questions than it answers. What do you feel? What does this make you think of? Whose fantasies are these" - Susannah Bettag, 2007
Susannah was born in Oxford, England. She graduated with honors in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts and Sciences in London, England. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband, Carl, twin daughter and son, Mella and Jasper, and their cat Bingo!
Are You Thinking of Me?
36" x 28"
Oil and acrylic on panel