Suzanne Jackson : Another Angle of Vision


text by Rosanna Albertini

about Suzanne Jackson’s “holding on to a sound” at  O – TOWN HOUSE, Los Angeles 

February-March 2019


SUZANNE JACKSON, Inventory Letters 2010, Acrylic, handmade paper, mesh fabric, Plexiglas, wood, 28.5 x 66 in  Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

The geography of our consciousness of reality has enormously complex coasts and is broken up by any number of mountains and lakes.”  

There is no mirror that shows us ourselves out of ourselves because there is no mirror that can draw us out of ourselves. Another soul would be necessary, another angle of vision or thought.”   

(Fernando Pessoa)

A painting, maybe? This is me, the painter’s granddaughter. He used to hold my hand after dinner as if a journey was starting. It was, all around the perimeter of his studio where I slept my best nights. Before getting into sleep, we moved from a painting to another. There were no words. I learned that landscapes, those painted by him, were a thin layer of reality he had brought home for us to see again, the feeling of their light.

Smell of turpentine. And smell of cows began in my memory, of grass and mountain cheese. Paintings were not mirrors of the land, neither of our perceptions. A mixture of now and then, seventy years after, tells me that we held hands while a part of us slipped out of our bodies to join the painted image, the invisible soul of her. Like flying for real, not dreaming. I was too young to be aware what it was. Thinking?  Even now I avoid it. Art asks for another angle, many many others. 

With Suzanne Jackson I messed up titles and artworks. I’m going to find the correct combination. But, for a moment, I like to miss it. I stay with her suggestion: “holding on to a sound.” I open our discovery of her paintings with a Mexican poem from Nahuacatle.

In the house of paintings

the singing begins


With flowers you write,

O Giver of Life:

with songs you give color,

with songs you shade

those who must live on the earth.


SUZANNE JACKSON, birdmusic – holding on to a sound 2011, Acrylic, Bogus paper, string, 28 x 29.5 x 6 in   Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

SUZANNE JACKSON, Gamet Zagbite 2016, Acrylic on layered acrylic, Garnet medium, and mixed papers, 36 x 57 in   Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

SUZANNE JACKSON, finding joy in the mirror 2016, Acrylic, wood veneer, Bogus paper, loquat seeds, 55 x 37.5 in Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

Having the sound to continue in her and prolonging its waves in her painted and sculpted work, Suzanne Jackson grabs the texture of the space she is in. Sounds spread and travel without geometry, they hit the chambers of our ears like the light hits the receptive sticks in our eyes. So does this artist, a woman of my age, a mature woman. She hits our soul.  In each piece is the geography of her feelings and thoughts in a specific moment: valleys and streams and spots of joy, sunny, next to the bloody moments or dark layers of…I don’t know if to call them colors…they are personal reverberations of the living, so intense that wood, paper, fabrics fold and turn and adapt to her need to escape flatness, maybe also the verbal simplification.


SUZANNE JACKSON, Moons in Double Copper Sea 2017, Acrylic, wood veneers, acrylic detritus on cradled Arches papers, 35.5 x 45 in   Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

SUZANNE JACKSON, Good News Baby! 2016 Acrylic, graphyte on un-stretched canvas, 54 x 62 in
Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

A long scroll becomes a solidified wave on the wall. We can read the feelings. Stories have been filtered, some marks remains. The response to her painted reality is a preverbal silence. The chest filled with emotions.

The sigle pieces expand, wrinkle and contract, accordion like.

SUZANNE JACKSON, Voiding Petitions 2014, Acrylic, graphite on canvas, 14 x 12 in   Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

 If the surface is flat, sometimes, the painted action is not. How our consciousness opens up: by layers, ideas at times, the flesh other times, and not without lacerations. Red wounds. It’s the theater of life.

SUZANNE JACKSON, Marilyn and Maya Watch Fog 2006, Watercolor on hardboard panel, 8 x 10 in   Courtesy of the artist and O-Town House LA

Marylin and Maya watch fog: maybe the most naturalistic of this group of recent artworks by Suzanne Jackson. It’s a very small watercolor, two open hands joined by the thumbs could frame it. It stops me like a bullet. Close and far images will disappear. They are devoured by the big mouth of fog like memories fading through time. I can’t stop watching this tormented scene. From the void of my mind another painting surfaces and floats over Suzanne’s image without covering it. It’s maybe the same intent in both pieces, I don’t really know. The other painting is an Italian oil painting by Pietro Annigoni, the portrait of a country side villa near Pisa, which becomes lontananza (an absent distance) behind a gate in the foreground, and a tree. The gate seems closed forever. The singing stops.

Mark Rothko 1943

“The world is what an artist makes it.

And in this world the eye is only an element of the totality of experience, has no precedence over feelings and thoughts.

A picture is not its color, its form, or its anecdote, but an intent entity idea, where implications transcend any of these parts.”


Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, composed by Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon – Translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998

Mark Rothko, Writings on Art, edited by Miguel Lopez-Remiro, Yale University press, New Haven and London, 2006

Technicians of the Sacred, edited with commentaries by Jerome Rothenberg, Third edition, University of California press, 2017



by Rosanna Albertini

1095 B-N

I am in this painting, the little girl sitting in the foreground, 1949?

We say BLACK: as if the night was an impenetrable bucket of ink and a pupil was a colorless spot in the middle of the iris instead of a hole, calling for light to come, hello mister brain, would you please activate your colors.

WHITE, instead, is an imaginary brush canceling lines, mess, imperfection, the same as snowflakes in New York sticking on the sidewalk. Piles of garbage bags become hills of the city covered with a white mantle.

I was torn by a dilemma for a few days: some of my grandfather Oreste Albertini’s paintings, reproduced in black & white photos, seemed to me utterly beautiful, not less than his oil landscape paintings that I see every day before my eyes. But these are photos of old paintings that I had never seen. Regression, toward a sentimental confusion? And what about the myth of the original art piece, usually treated as a religious icon? Am I committing an abstract sacrilege? What’s more important: the object or the intangible aura spread by the painted object, in which the art secret is held like a hostage. A high price in tension is required to set it free.


1078 B-N

1103 B-N


Oreste’s paintings in my house are not decorative complements of my daily life, they are fragments of my own life magically brought together in one canvas or on a small wooden surface. The very moment of my birth is posed on a 15 x 11 inch painted tablet. The painter’s feelings are there, in the silent vibration of light over a day of labor, soaking grass and mountains with faltering strokes.

In the white shelter of our skull, through the gray matter of the brain, an almost unthinkable conversation between light and our neuronal trees unfolds flowers of color, sentiments, sounds.

Colors, sounds, sentiments, are different for each person. They are the body and soul of the arts. That’s why ideas, maybe, are the most conventional and convenient food of our lives, from mouth to mouth, resting on pages, never definitive. They only sound like the daughters of certainty.

1107 B-N

Wanting company, I looked for original, clear minds. I found Giuseppe Panza di Biumo* and his memories as a collector, Mark Rothko,** Fernando Pessoa*** and Alberto Albertini, Oreste’s son.

Fernando Pessoa  “Life for us is what we conceive in it. For the peasant, whose little farm is everything, that empire is a little farm. … In point of fact, we possess nothing more than our own sensations; within them, therefore, and not within what they see, we just find the reality of our lives.”

Mark Rothko  “…making close the remote in order to bring it into the order of my human & intimate understanding. …”
Here, says the painter, is what my world is composed: a quantity of sky, a quantity of earth, and a quantity of animation. And he lays them out on the table for me to observe at the same distance, to hold in the palm of my understanding without editorship – and these are eyes or a head – that are the desires and fears and aspirations of animated spirits.”
I am interested only in expressing basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom or so on – and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate those basic human emotions. … The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!”

1094 B-N

Giuseppe Panza “The relationship between idea and form, so difficult, almost impossible to define, is the secret and mystery of art, its obscure and powerful core; its force that overcomes the limits of reason and connects to the unknown, to the mystery of life. As if one would touch something impossible to imagine, arising from the springs of life. Not an intellectual operation, rather a phenomenon that precedes and goes beyond us as human beings.”

1063 B-N

Alberto Albertini “My presence next to him as a child, while he painted, fills my vision. I often went out with him and watched him while painting outdoor, and more than anything else I absorbed the charm around him. I used to curl up by a hill’s shoulder to protect myself from the wind. In March the sun is barely warm. I could perceive the same atmosphere he was painting. He was able to transfer his perceptions into the painting; that’s what his paintings give me back, those immersive moments.”     ( )

My dilemma remains, along with my love for the black & white ghosts.



Oreste Albertini, Notebook

Alberto Albertini, A Socialist Painter, in this blog

Giuseppe Panza, Ricordi di un collezionista, Milano, Jaca Book Spa, 2006

Mark Rothko, Writings on Art, Yale University, 2006

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, Boston, Exact Change, 1998





NERO: lo dico ed è come se la notte fosse un secchio di inchiostro impenetrabile e la pupilla una macchia senza colore nel mezzo dell’iride invece che un buco, un buco che chiede alla luce di entrare, signor cervello buondì, mi faccia il piacere di accendere i colori.

BIANCO, invece, è un pennello immaginario che cancella segni, tracce di caos, imperfezioni, come fanno i fiocchi di neve sui marciapiedi di New York. Sacchi della spazzatura ammucchiati diventano colli urbani coperti da una mantello bianco.

Un dilemma mi ha turbato per qualche giorno: alcuni quadri del mio nonno pittore Oreste Albertini mi sono parsi bellissimi nella versione fotografica in bianco e nero, non meno dei quadri a olio che ho sotto gli occhi tutti i giorni. Eppure sono fotografie di vecchi quadri che non ho mai visto. Stavo regredendo verso una confusione sentimentale? Cosa ne faccio dell’opera d’ arte originale come mito, che di solito si tratta come un’icona religiosa? Sto commettendo un sacrilegio astratto? Che cos’è che importa di più: l’oggetto di per sé oppure l’aura che emana dall’oggetto dipinto, che quasi tiene in ostaggio il segreto dell’arte. Per liberarlo, ci vuole una tensione che non ha prezzo.

I quadri di Oreste nella mia casa non accompagnano la mia vita quotidiana come decorazioni. Sono momenti e luoghi della mia vita, dei frammenti che rivivono come per magia su una tela oppure su una tavoletta dipinta. Il momento esatto della mia nascita si è posato su una tavoletta di 38 x 29 centimetri. Sensazioni dell’artista, luce che vibra in silenzio sulle fatiche di un giorno, mentre i campi e le montagne prendono forma impregnate da un pennello esitante.

Nel ricettacolo bianco del cranio, attraverso la materia grigia del cervello, una conversazione inconcepibile fra la luce e gli alberi neurali sviluppa una fioritura di colore, suoni e sentimenti.

Suoni, colori e sentimenti sono diversi persona per persona. Sono corpo e anima delle arti.
Forse per questo le idee sono il cibo più convenzionale e opportuno, di bocca in bocca, qualche sosta sulla carta, niente di definitivo. Figlie della certezza solo in apparenza.

In cerca di compagnia, ho trovato alcune voci oneste e originali: Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, un collezionista con le sue memorie, Mark Rothko, Fernando Pessoa e Alberto Albertini, figlio di Oreste.

Fernando Pessoa “La nostra vita è solo quello che riusciamo a vederci dentro. La fattoria è tutto per il contadino, l’impero è una piccola casa. … E’ un dato di fatto che non possediamo niente più delle sensazioni; è al loro interno, non in quello che vediamo, che siamo in grado di trovare la nostra vita come è in realtà.”

Mark Rothko “… rendendo vicine le cose distanti per portarle nell’ordine della comprensione umana & intima …”
“Ecco, dice il pittore, i mio mondo è composto di: un po’ di cielo, un po’ di terra, e un po’ di animazione. E dispone le dosi sul tavolo per farmele osservare alla stessa distanza, perché le tenga nel palmo della mano senza alterazioni – questi sono occhi o una testa – che sono i desideri, o le paure, e le aspirazioni degli spiriti animati.”
“La sola cosa che mi interessa è esprimere emozioni umane fondamentali – tragedia, estasi, rovina o cosi via – e il fatto che un sacco di gente si emoziona e piange davanti ai miei dipinti mostra che ho trasmesso emozioni fondamentali. … Chi piange davanti ai miei quadri sta vivendo la stessa esperienza religiosa che avevo avuto quando li ho dipinti. E se tu, come dici, sei toccato solo dalle relazioni fra i colori, ti perdi l’essenziale!”

Giuseppe Panza “Un riesame del rapporto tra l’idea e la forma, rapporto difficile da definire, anzi impossibile da definire, è il segreto e il mistero dell’arte, è il suo nucleo oscuro e potente, è la sua grande forza superiore ai limiti della ragione, è il punto di connessione con l’ignoto, con il mistero della vita e di tutte le cose. E’ come toccare qualche cosa che non si può neppure immaginare, e come arrivare alle sorgenti della vita. Non è un’operazione intellettuale, è un fenomeno che precede il nostro essere e lo supera.”

Alberto Albertini “La capacità di dare corpo, consistenza, materalità ai volumi dei paesaggi mi pare straordinaria. Io tutto questo lo vedo in relazione alle mie presenze, da bambino, quando dipingeva. Spesso uscivo con lui e lo vedevo dipingere ma soprattutto assorbivo l’incanto che vi aleggiava. Mi raggomitolavo contro una riva, al riparo del vento, al sole tiepido di marzo. Percepivo l’atmosfera che lui dipingeva. Penso che avesse le stesse percezioni e queste riusciva a trasferire nel dipinto, questo mi rievocano i quadri, l’atmosfera, quei momenti.”