I am so proud of this painting of Rah Hell I hate to be separated from it even to exhibit it!
Rah Hell by Suzanne Forbes at Ludwig. photo by Suzanne Wegh
However I am thrilled to have it shown at Ludwig, where Thorsten took such great care in hanging it and positioning the lighting.
Ludwig is a beautiful queer space in Neukölln where art is really respected. I was so grateful to see my work handled with care. It will be the first thing visitors to our show this Saturday see upon entering!
It is the first big personal project portrait I’ve done in Berlin.
I see it as a companion piece, à pendant, to this big portrait I did of friend/muse/Patron Khris Brown in 2005, when I had just returned to painting after a thirteen-year hiatus. This portrait, one of many I did of Khris, is probably my favorite thing I’ve done to date. And this picture of Rah is right up there.
I painted Rah on a pink ground.
That means before she arrived, I painted the primed canvas an allover bright pink. I used to do this occasionally in college, but had forgotten about it until I saw the work of Natalia Fabia. She is one of the wonderful modern figurative artists I’ve discovered on Instagram. She very often paints on a pink ground.
It adds so much warmth, plus serving as a light mid-tone. Not entirely unlike the many drawings I’ve done on Kraft paper in the last few months! Since I paint alla prima and leave a few areas of bare canvas on every painting I make, you can see the pink peeking through at the edges.
Modern technology makes it so easy to photograph your work, even if you are as bad a photographer as I am.
I’m amazed at how easy it to record and share my new pieces. You can see the details of how I paint easily, the scumbling and bits of impasto. I used quite a bit of gel medium in this work, to get translucent layers that would capture Rah’s luminous youth. Young people’s skin has so much subsurface specularity!
You can see it in progress here and here.
This painting didn’t exist a month ago, and now here it is, on the internet and hanging at Ludwig. My Patrons made it possible.
I’m incredibly proud of it and so grateful to Rah for posing for three long sittings. I am so very grateful to my Patrons who support me on Patreon and make it possible for me to do this work.
If you’re in Berlin, come see our show at Ludwig, opening August 19, 2017! Check out Rah performing in Donut Heart! Celebrate queer Berlin!! YAY!!!!