Artist Profile

  • john suplee
  • 4
  • john suplee

John Suplee

  • Lived:
  • 1947
  • Worked:
  • Chester County, PA., Central New York.
  • Style:
  • Realism, Impressionism
  • John Suplee is but one of the traditional painters so abundant in our region, yet the careful observer will realize that his work has taken its own path.  Although mindful of an artist's obligation to establish a personal point of view, Suplee has for decades been guided by the adage "all art comes from other art".  This controversial and broad-based study, which has encompassed everything from prehistoric cave art to abstract expressionism (a circular path if one really thinks about it!) is what enriches his appraoch.

    Suplee's subjects are imaginiative and distinct, often revealing beauty "between the cracks". One predominate theme is the interplay of plant life with man-made elements.  Another is the constant (and not necessarily welcome) potential for change and disappearance that so characterizes life today.  In fact, the artist directly admits that his work is often driven by "the desire to counteract - or even avenge the loss of things I care about."

    John graduated from Hamilton College in 1969, where he was the first Hamilton student artist to organize and install his own four-year "Retrospective" of over 100 works created there.  Over the following four decades he has painted and exhibited without pause, favoring solo presentations in institutions, commercial galleries and private venues.

    His honors have included four-time participation in Utica-based Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute's Annual "Artists of Central New York" exhibition - once (1967) while still a student at Hamilton, twice with special jury commendations and finally with the purchase of a work by the museum in 1987.  In 1986 his painting, Whole Herd Levitation received the "Best of Show" Grand Prixe at the Cooperstown National Exhibition and more recently, his painting Jackey on Guard at the Louvre was included was included in a biennial at Elmira's Arnot Museum.  Closer to home John's paintings have received multiple awards at the Bianco Gallery (formerly in Bucks County) and at the Chester County Art Association.

    Since the late 1980's Suplee's work has been exclusively in solo exhibitions, sending hundreds of pieces into the hands of happy private owners (John's wife Carol keeps a file of "thank-you" notes sent to him by people who have bought paintings).  Here in West Chester these solos (normally comprising 30-50 works each) have included no less than ten (1984-1995) at Sunset Hill Fine Arts Gallery, two at the short-lived but excellent Garrubbo-Bazan Gallery, and three at the Chester County Art Association.  John takes particular pride in the last group, which included Familiar Places (1999), Seeing Our Town (2003), and Subject to Change (2009). In each of these exhibits his throughful choice of subject matter sparked a public response that went beyond art to include memory, appreciation, and perhaps even a new regard for the look of our area (no surprise then that each show provided the cover image of the Daily Local's Weekender section).

    Suplee's medium of choice has always been acrylic, but the imagery itself has evolved from gestural near-abstraction in the 1980's to what one Phildelphia critic termed an "Easygoing Realism" that has become his predominant style over the last twenty years. Although on site drawing lends instant recognizability to his location-based motifs, Suplee freely admits to being a "100 percent studio painter."

    "After all, why do we pay artists the big bucks (he says with a certain conscious irony), if not for their ability to trick reality into explaining itself in a more readable, long-lasting and beautiful way?"