Suzanna Schlemm

Country where you live:

City where you live:

Statement : 


The process of painting, for me, is parallel to living: it is constantly happening on the side. The images that I use in my paintings surface in my mind, arising from a much deeper place. When they begin to form I capture them through notes and sketches. Later I look for or produce the photographs I need as visual reference for the painting. There isn’t much thinking in this phase: I simply allow the river to flow, and the he more I paint, the richer the flow gets. The reflection comes later, when the work is done or underway.

My themes self assemble organically, in groups of paintings. Lately, I have been painting women and their children living immersed in nature, in intimate relationship with their animals and their environment. They look deeply into themselves, but also look after each other. Together, they form a utopian female tribe.

I don’t really know where my imagery comes from and I like to keep it that way. However, looking back in my childhood I find most of the elements I now recognize in my work. My family of origin is predominantly composed of strong women. A matriarchal family for sure, but not necessarily a peaceful one. I also grew up in close proximity to dense tropical forests. My most cherished childhood memories involve being in nature, in contemplation and solitude. In the forest, the feeling of belonging is visceral. Nature is a womb.

Often times, when a painting is well advanced I realize the figures and symbols on canvas already exist in mythological stories from varying times and cultures. This reminds me that our separateness is an illusion, and that our roots connect us underneath, drinking from the vast collective subconscious of the human psyche, where image is the only language. This notion moves me deeply.

Painting allows all of this to come to light and thrive. The canvas is a mirror where I can look at myself and see human kind looking back at me.

As for technique, I always paint in layers. The first ones cover the whole canvas, but as the work progresses, I leave different areas untouched and only go where I feel I am needed. This constant assessment is one of the most exciting aspects of painting. Layer after layer, the painting becomes a Swiss cheese in which the hollows and the surface work together to build a dynamic whole.

I also like to look at my paintings and see the image I am building as well as the very paint it is made of: once I make a mark on the canvas, I lift my brush, honoring the brushstrokes as they come.

I try to focus on the kind of information that is relevant to painting, like tone, color and shape, and avoid being too descriptive with details. This way of thinking points me in the direction of the slightly disruptive realism that I am trying to achieve.

Oil on canvas, 48 x 48
Oil on canvas, 40 in x 30 in
Oil on canvas, 48 x 48
Oil on Canvas, 40 in x 30 in
Fellow Human
24 in x 24 in

Suzanna Schlemm is an artist interested in the wilderness of a woman’s soul and the vast collective subconscious of human psyche, where image is the only language. Her technique is grounded on traditional oil painting and is evolving into a form of disruptive realism. Originally from Brazil, Suzanna attended the New York Studio School and is currently based in Darien, CT.

United Kingdom
France and Italy
Les Gets and Bardonecchia
United Kingdom UK



Submit for Artist of the month

art jobs