In The Traveler’s Return, her second solo exhibition at Metaphor, Susan Homer presents 16 new paintings which gently extend her reach into the hidden corners of nature and the secret places of her own romantic imagination. In her lavish and painterly works Homer strews fields of flowers across surfaces rich with incident and creamy impasto. For Homer, an avid gardener, the slowly developing nature of her paintings echoes the slowly unfolding processes of nature itself. The multiple sessions of work that go into their making leave behind layers of information and traces of brushwork that become part of the topology of the paintings imbuing them with a tactile generative energy and a deep sense of time.
Homer’s imagery is at once whimsical and firmly grounded in a distinctly imaginative American tradition of nature painting that links her to such artists as Georgia O’Keefe and Charles Burchfield. Her work though, eschews the reach for transcendental atmospherics, preferring to concentrate on an earthier, more microcosmic focus. Homer’s paintings make one feel that they are out walking through a wonderfully disheveled backyard garden in the company of a visionary naturalist, one able to spot unique fauna flitting amongst the tangled flora. Homer’s birds once again stand in her work as symbols of vivid life engaged in behaviors every bit as mysterious as our own. In a group of smaller works the birds have somehow made their way inside and refresh themselves at tea. In these playful works the birds are painted more or less life size and seem delighted with their transgressions.
Painted with an unfettered and searching directness Susan Homers paintings are full of restless energy yet retain passages of great deftness and delicacy tracing branches across impossible skies, twining tendrils of vines, and masses of flowers. Within these richly imagined environments, her birds seem alert and aware, full of life, nerve, and knowledgeable of the fact that they are supremely lucky. Wise and free, Susan Homer’s paintings remind us that it is sometimes in the most fleeting glimpses that the mysteries of nature and life reveal themselves and that to catch sight of them we all must be as alert as birds.