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Sue Fitzgerald 2014

It’s been over two years since Sue Fitzgerald’s last show at the Catto, and in that time she’s travelled the world in search of the fabrics and the views that inspire her radiant artworks. Now, several passport stamps later, the results are in. And they’re breathtaking.

In 28 new paintings, Sue explores once again the shimmering beauty of European landscape and the tactile delight of silks, ceramics, artefacts and fabric.

Indeed, many of her works incorporate these materials physically as visual ‘cues’ at the start of the painting process. Sue uses multiple layers of these mixed media, and then adds translucent and opaque acrylics to create a finished product infused with her trademark luminescent glow.

And the method is crucial because, whatever the subject depicted, Sue is always working towards her real preoccupation: colour. No one does cobalt blue and crimson quite like she. In a painting like Grapes And Red Cloth, for example, you see both in equal measure. It’s like they’re fighting for space on the canvas.

The work is a delightfully loose twist on one of Sue’s favourite set-ups – beautiful objects arranged on patterned tables. It’s a preference that reveals the artist’s debt to a Parisian school of painters called the Nabis, which comprised Bonnard, Matisse and Vuillard.

The Nabis were among the first painters to take a fresh view of perspective. They loved colour and texture – so much so that they would flatten a view to give objects full reign rather than foreshortening them with ‘correct’ perspective.

Sue does this in paintings like Redcurrants and Sunday Afternoon, which could almost be read as abstract studies such is their dramatic take on conventional space. But for those less interested in all the art theory, they are also very very lovely.

There’s similar thinking at work when Sue turns to landscape. You can see it in Spring The Troodos Mountains, and even more dramatically in Lavender Fields. Here, the patchwork hillside could easily be a giant version of one of Sue’s treasured fabrics.

There’s immense pleasure to be derived from these wonderful paintings. But occasionally, Sue tries something a little different. For example, Sunflowers stands apart in this show – a dancing parade of yellow amid all the blue and red.

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