Contemporary Fine Artist, Ilona Suschitzky works in a variety of mediums. Her work has been exhibited internationally and received critical acclaim with a series of successful solo exhibitions.
Suschitzky’s primary interest is in exploring how images tell wordless stories that have no equivalent in language. Her paintings and drawings are an ongoing exploration of the marriage of folk tales, the real world and the compositional demands needed to create a preverbal story in its most accessible and dramatic form. Her work also endeavours to echo a sense of beauty and empathy in human situations.
Suschitzky was born and raised in South Africa, where she received two degrees in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg before emigrating to the UK in the mid 1970’s. During her formative years, Suschitzky worked for respected Painter and Art Historian, Sir Lawrence Gowing at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. This had a crucial and lasting impression on Suschitzky’s work. She was also awarded the Richard Ford Award which gave her the opportunity to study painting in Madrid.
Alongside creating her own work, Suschitzky has executed numerous important commissions including portraits, book illustrations, record album covers and murals.
I grew up in South Africa at a time when the colour of your skin was the passport to a privileged life. From childhood I recognized that my skin colour politicized me and because of it I was already responsible for the suffering of “the other”. Also, I am Jewish and was born soon after the Holocaust in which a large part of my family were murdered because of their origins.
For my 4th birthday I was given a huge green cloth bound folder of exquisitely printed Victorian paintings and illustrations. Without a single word to explain what I was looking at, I was immediately taken into an unknown other world; a magical, silent narrative. It was the first time I was introduced to the power of an image.
Out of these elements my need to draw and paint developed from the commitment to picture making as well as a need to create a narrative that I could not find the words for. I have always wanted to explore the fact that a human being is a ‘fact’, not a political football.
I am fascinated by the way in which a message is carried through a picture; by the magic that an image can conjure up in one’s mind. It cuts the necessity of words so that one is face to face with something pre-verbal, something that defines that gut feeling for which, especially as a child, you have no explanation. From my earliest work onwards I have always tried to tell the same pre-verbal story using all the possibilities that painting and drawing offers. Picture making was thus a perfect vehicle for me. It gave me a way of saying the unsayable; perhaps it is why my work is usually enmeshed in human situations.
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