Home Magazine Sue Daniel and the exploration of wonders through the application of control and chance


The Abstract expressionist artists defines art as a window into the soul driving the creation process but allowing random wonders to occur by taking creative risks. 

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Sue Daniel is an abstract expressionist painter born in Hungary. She came to Canada during the Hungarian revolution in 1956. Confidence, freedom and a fierce independence are critical components that live in all her works, shaped and driven by memories of struggle. After traveling extensively and living in Turkey, England, California and Montreal, she now resides in West Vancouver, Canada, and works there in her own purpose-built studio. Largely self-taught, Sue works in oils to abstractly depict and reflect the drama she finds in nature and life. Like other abstract expressionists before her, Sue believes that art is a window into the soul, and that window is best opened through the application of control and chance working together: the artist consciously drives the creation process while encouraging and exploiting the random wonders that occur by taking creative risks. “Painting forces me to self-examine and push out of my comfort zone, and at the same time it sets me free. I hope it does the same for those who look at my work. Her work is in corporate and private collections in the US and Canada. Sue is represented by Art Works Gallery in Vancouver, Canada.

Sue Daniel, Blue Color Field. Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

Sue’s methodology explores the “control and chance concept” popularized by the artists of the New York School in the ‘50s – the abstract expressionists – where the artist consciously. drives the creation process while encouraging and exploiting the random wonders that can occur by taking creative chances. Each subject is discovered and rediscovered in the creation and recreation of the piece; each translucent layer adds to its depth and complexity. 

Sue Daniel. Abstract Composition #3. Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

For her, painting is primarily about color, materials and texture. When prepping a canvas, she generally starts sketching with graphite, or sometimes asphaltum then she soaks the canvas with thinned quick- drying acrylics, then some gels or molding paste for raised textures. This process saturates the canvas in some areas, and not others, allowing for different levels of absorption of later layers of oil paint and different mediums, providing a complex base for the detailed drawing elements she often finishes with. Sue Daniel works and reworks a piece many times, adding layer after layer, then scraping back to reveal sections beneath. As the artist describes, the process is very like a dance to music, steps forward then back, then forward again. She spread and scraped broad patches and layers of colors, using large brushes and edges of a palette knife. She likes to use different elements, shapes, circles, ladders, also loose detailed gestural marks, chalk, oil sticks, all creating a visual vocabulary that opens a dialogue. She keeps applying layers of paint in different ways, mixing with different mediums, like varnish, thinners, linseed oil and water to create new and exciting ways that paint can flow across the canvas. She pushes boundaries in the many ways paint can be applied and manipulated, as well as the physical and chemical interactions of the process. Sue Daniel favors large canvases because, as she said: “large pieces create a powerful impact”.

Sue Daniel, Red Color Field. Courtesy of Art Works Gallery.

As Sue Daniel tells us, she paints pure abstracts, where colors, lines and shapes stand on their own to express ideas and emotions. This is very different from representational art, which is designed to capture the essence of a person, place or thing. She creates a specific type of painting, but never a predetermined one. Her works appear simple at first glance, but offer increasing levels of complexity as the viewer becomes engaged. She favors the simple expression of the complex on large canvases. She uses rich, bold colors and multi layered shapes that create a strong physical presence in her work. That presence is enhanced by rendering abstracted construction and shapes to provoke, challenge and evoke passion. The resulting works transform standard notions into uniquely expressive abstract forms influenced by the abstract expressionists of the New York School of the 1950’s. As Sue Daniel stated: “I aspire to create art that is not anything recognizable, not contrived, not anything describable, an abstract construction that just makes you feel.”

Cover image: Sue Daniel. A Change is Coming. Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

Written by Kooness

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