In Subterranean Murmur, artists Alex Proba and Scott Sueme explore the concept of intuition, turning toward and magnifying the inner voices that drive a creative process. Both artists use shapes and symbols as nostalgic markers of memory and tangible records of the everyday.
The exhibition title comes from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a treatise on writing and maintaining a creative practice. Lamott equates listening to your intuition with the sound of a subterranean murmur. There might not be a definitive “aha” moment, a moment where the image in your mind’s eye is perfectly clear, but rather a quiet rumbling, a breadcrumb on the trail.
In Proba’s works, intuition’s guiding words are akin to that of a familiar familial voice. She takes inspiration from her babcia (Polish for “grandmother”), who fled communist Poland and her career as a florist, but never lost her love of horticulture. Proba’s babcia maintained an elaborate garden where Proba spent many afternoons painting as a child; these formative experiences influenced Proba’s choice to become an artist and designer. Each of the paintings in this series is inflected with memories of moments they spent together - the pattern she wore, the garden she tended, the meals she cooked. Through her abundantly ornamented paintings, freeform canvases, and plump sculptures, Proba pays homage to her babcia.
There might not be a definitive “aha” moment, a moment where the image in your mind’s eye is perfectly clear, but rather a quiet rumbling, a breadcrumb on the trail.
Through bold and meditative patterns, Sueme’s paintings capture the pursuit of transcending external noise and interference in favor of following intuition. Each work serves as a guidepost, with precisely positioned symbols that suggest the mapping of an internal impulse. Titles such as Antennas and Encoding, Sorting, Storing speaks to the desire to categorize or label those inner voices, and give shape to instinct. Within this framework, Sueme’s paintings knit together meaning and memories from diverse sources: Josef Alber’s theory of color, a frigid trip to Joshua Tree, and hiking in Vancouver to the edge of a cliff, among others. In and of themselves, these compositional fragments tell their own tales, acting as vessels to project isolated moments of material, texture, emotion, and narrative into connected stories.
In Subterranean Murmur, Sueme and Proba’s works speak to a practice borne from osmosis, of letting intuition guide and serve as a means to organize, extrapolate, and process the internal and external experience.
- Alex ProbaPortland, ORArtist Page
Alex Proba’s multidisciplinary practice evokes a reverence for life’s quiet moments. Using her surroundings as the main source of inspiration in her work, she draws from sensory and visual information to intimate the experience of finding beauty and joy in unexpected places. Born in Germany, Proba studied Spatial Design at Akademie Mode & Design Hamburg, Germany, and then Contextual Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands.
- Scott SuemeVancouver, CanadaArtist Page
Scott Sueme (b. 1986) is a Canadian artist raised in Vancouver, BC, on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Scott attended Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2006, and has since worked in many fields including fine art, graphic design and large-scale wall paintings. Scott has exhibited throughout Canada, as well as internationally, including New York, San Francisco, Miami and Cape Town. Recent exhibitions include ‘Building Buildings’ at Mayberry Fine Art in Winnipeg (2020) and ‘Intercepting the Nature of Colour and Form’ (2020) at Gallery Jones in Vancouver.Scott’s paintings are rooted in an exploration of materiality – principally, the quality and perception of color. In his work, color manifests as an abstraction of various elements of life, interacting to recall memories, capture the passage of time or connect with the subconscious. Scott’s hard-edge painting techniques create a subtlety of depth that reveals a new resonance to color and an admission of the human hand. This “imperfect” process of making speaks to a nostalgia and authenticity – an honoring of the handmade. Through an intimacy of material interaction, Scott’s works act as small records of larger lived experiences and a conversational catalogue of human imprints.