TAMSIN PICKERAL – ART HISTORIAN, AUTHOR AND CRITIQUE
LEYLAND - ELONGATED-TEKE – BIENNALE DI VENEZIA, TORINO 2012
The highly original work of artist
Susan Leyland is defined by its sense of balance, both in its
physical manifestation and in the cerebral ideology that drives it.
As such she brings together pure, simple and brilliant geometric
form, pieces of striking modern art, yet, through her use of the
horse she is able to invest the pieces with energy and magnetism. Her
horses emerge from the blocks as a series of planes manipulating
space, of spare linear detail; they are not overtly sentimental, but
with her inexorable balance, she makes them real. There is a
narrative buried deep in these works, alongside a soul, but first and
foremost they pieces of aesthetic acuity. Susan Leyland is not an
equestrian artist; she is an artist who addresses horses in her work.
works are statements of pure, harmonizing form and of space – the
space that the pieces take up, their visual reality, and the negative
spaces they create. They have a timeless quality, merging a feeling
of the ancient with a pathway to the future; a future not restricted
to the physical realms of her work, but also in transcendental terms,
seen particularly in the resonance of her Akhal-Teke block pieces.
This rare and ancient horse breed, a precious remnant of the earliest
horses, has been given longevity in clay and bronze, and challenges
the spectator with boldness and unerring intelligence. Leyland’s
use of the Akhal-Teke is itself bold and underlines her philosophy.
These are unusually conformed horses noted for their sharp angularity
and the geometric quality of their muscle planes; they are largely
unknown to the public but a perfect subject for an artist expressing
an aesthetic ideology.
restricted to shape and form Leyland is, perhaps surprisingly, a
sensitive colorist, seen to particular effect in her bronze works.
Where her terracotta pieces are underlined by their coolness and
purity, her bronze works are rich and beautifully diverse in the
extent of their patina from icy, ancient blue-greens to lustrous,
earthy red-browns. Most significantly Leyland’s work is one of
continual, subtle evolution, a journey of the senses and intellect
that results in continually stimulating and thought provoking art