Lying in a pram somewhere in England in the early 1950s, a baby looked up, mesmerised by the way leaves on the tree overhead were silhouetted against the twilight sky. In that moment, Sue Rosalind Vesely’s artistic fate was sealed. “I was entranced by colour,” she recalls. “The blue of a dusk sky, the orange of a huge baked-beans poster and the incredible transparency of coloured glass are indelible memories from this time.”
Born to Anglo-Czech parents, Sue was somewhat of a child prodigy, drawing fully complete figures from the age of three. A stand-out talent throughout her schooling, it came as no surprise when, after completing a Bachelor of Arts, she went on to win a postgraduate place in the painting school of the prestigious Royal College of Art in London. Rubbing shoulders with famous artists at the College on a regular basis, Sue flourished, graduating the Master of Arts degree with Distinction.
At some point along the way, Sue also became somewhat of an inventor. “I have developed a language that I call ‘Innominalism’ from the unconscious mind, which is generic and relates to everyone’s subconscious,” she explains. This approach of painting the generic appearance of the world, rounded down by memory, contributes to a sense of distance and paradoxical familiarity with the dream-like figures and spaces depicted.
In an aesthetic sense, Sue’s work looks like, “a cross between Michelangelo and Francis Bacon, with a bit of De Chirico thrown in,” she says. “The surface is intentionally beautiful although the concept is not decorative.” Invention occurs once again during the painting process, when Sue summons images from her own imagination and memory of the appearance of things. Choosing not to paint from life, she explains, “I have a 3D model in my head, which I can turn in all directions.” It is perhaps this method that contributes to the sense of weightlessness in her images.
These days, Sue lives in idyllic Lake Macquarie in NSW, having moved to Australia for a sea-change a decade ago. Continuing her individual practice, she also enjoys teaching at Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie, and running portraiture workshops at The Art Gallery of NSW. She is currently working on paintings that focus on our interaction with water in the landscape, with her exhibition Light House slated to open in November at Melbourne’s West End Art Space.
If there’s one thing that she’s been sure of all along, it’s this: “Art chose me.”
Featured image: Sue Rosalind Vesely in her studio.