Artist Neil Grayson Gets Favorable Showing at Sussman Home

Monday, March 16, 1998
Miami Herald
Article by Buddy Clarke

Insurance executive Stanley Sussman and his wife Janice are longtime admirers of the paintings of young artist Neil Grayson. The Sussmans have many of Grayson’s unusual paintings hanging in their 8,000 square-foot Boca West penthouse. Their son, David J. Sussman, of Westport, Conn., has his share as well; besides being an admirer of Grayson” art, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Dactyl Foundation, an organization that Grayson founded.

The Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, to give its full name, is a non-profit organization that offers awards and opportunities to artists, writers and musicians. Grayson also designed the Foundation’s architecturally unique exhibition/performance space in order to offer a new way to appreciate art.

The Sussmans opened their magnificent home on Tuesday for a day of “Ideas and Art,” and have hung several of Grayson’s recent paintings, plus some early works for viewing by the guests who attended. Some of the paintings were so large that they had to be crane-lifted to the penthouse and brought in through a terrace door opening.

Grayson met with members of the United Jewish Appeal and he discussed with them the “embodiment of trend and tradition in contemporary art.” Grayson told them that his sense of aesthetics is inseparable from his wish to provoke consideration of the human condition.

Grayson’s paintings show the influence of such diverse artists as Rembrandt and Picasso. I find that the artist’s own words best express what he is attempting to do with his paint and brushes. Says Grayson, “The ineffable power of art-often described as its essence or spiritual quality-is to me, a barrage of memory echoes. Distant associations are repeated with uncanny differences that are both reassuring somehow and disquieting.”

“To give an example from my own experience, a figure with a bowed head reminds me, irrationally, either of a lynched figure or an infant who cannot keep his head up. The incongruous association forces me to search for its source- possibly the vulnerability that I’ve observed in others or in myself. These avatars with bowed heads appear in many of my works.”

“I tend to see this idea in figures that don’t literally suggest it, such as a bowing figure on stage, a male fighter, etc. The unconscious is a-temporal, overlaying as it does, past onto the future. It obsesses. I am compelled to abstract from the representational image the same principle again and again, searching for a visual language that transcends trend.”

Other quotes from Grayson: “I think everyone tends to believe in the reality of one’s own perception…my haphazard brushstrokes remind my viewer that my subject is not reality but point of view and the difficulty of expressing it…my canvas records the destruction and creation of image.”

Neil Grayson is a most unusual man, and a most unusual artist. The Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities is located at 64 Grand St., in the SoHo district of New York City.