Chris Succo

Painterly histories honoured, then blurred, in explorations of material and composition.

Chris Succo sat on a chair with one leg crossed over the other in his studio
storage unit on wheels in artist's studio with two large canvases behind and paint splashes on the floor
Chris Succo signing artworks that rest on a large table surface in his studio
4 images

Chris Succo was born in 1979 and lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.

At Auction

His original painting Everything In It's Right Place (2014) was purchased for $65,935 USD at Phillips London in 2015.

Accolades

Succo has received numerous fellowships including the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Fellowship, Berlin in 2010; the Carte Blanche Fellowship, Liechtenstein in 2010 and the DHCS Fellowship, Düsseldorf in 2009.

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Exhibitions

Practice overview

Succo’s practice centres around materiality. While his work shifts between styles and mediums, it is unified by a predominantly monochrome palette. With the spirit of abstract expressionism, the spiralic gesture and brisk strokes of his paintings celebrate the limitless potential of paint and canvas. In the series Nu Era, simple black and white designs in lacquered aluminium demonstrate the power of minimalist composition, while in the series Dye Paintings, the hand of the artist is replaced by dark, repetitive prints on fabric. Just as Minimalism rejected the traditional idea that art had to represent something from the outside world, Succo explores materials for the sake of their own inherent value, giving a quiet assertiveness and gentle freedom to his works.

Total Recall is Succo’s smallest retrospective to date. At Islington’s Rod Barton Gallery in 2013, it was a highly considered display of three works which each represented a separate strand of Succo’s practice. Entering the room, a Nu Era white canvas intersected by a neat, black diagonal line takes central view. Its sharp frame bursts out of the wall as if a continuum of the line in the painting. To the left, is a work from Succo’s White Series: a square canvas saturated with loose, repetitious, white impasto that only occasionally allows traces of grey and black to emerge. The unusually thin stretcher submerges the painting into the wall as if a submissive, but no less powerful, counterpart to the dominant central painting. Finally, to the right, is a large black and white photographic print of a pint of beer. Overtly representational, the work is an almost jarring intervention into what would otherwise be a display of pure abstraction. However, it is precisely through these compositional contradictions that the show finds exquisite balance - a divergent harmony of Succo’s varying styles that is testament to his thorough, sensitive and masterful eye.

The use of line in Succo’s work has a sense of transience. Succo admits that he is motivated to sketch regularly and document his life through photography, in order to counter his unreliable memory. The loose, almost illustrative line of his solo show Skin N’ Bones, at London's Almine Rech Gallery in 2017, appears pulled directly out of his sketchbook. Halfway between drawing and painting, his furious mark-making has a feeling of haste, and a fear of forgetting. In works such as At the Drawing Room (2016) and Jungle Smoke Lounge (2017) dense scribbles obscure interiors and figures that shift in and out of representation and abstraction, as if part of a hazy memory just out of recollection. While the work in Skin N’ Bones moves away from Succo’s pure abstraction, it retains an avid commitment to material inquiry. Testing and refining the quality of line, Succo bridges fleeting moments of daily life into art on its own terms.

"You have to forget everything. The thought of being successful does not exist in the studio."Chris Succo