Briselli’s photo-paintings at Woodstock’s Galerie BMG

Susanna Brisell

Galerie BMG in Woodstock is a special place. In addition to hosting one of the most redolent spots for a gallery in both Woodstock and the Hudson Valley, perched over a sylvan stream and awash in dappled light, everything hung in its main galleries downstairs or its upstairs collection space is lent a combined sense of intimacy and exquisite carefulness. Add on the fact that this is where photographic gallerist Howard Greenberg got his start back in the 1970s, as well as his former baby, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, and one gets a sense of just how special a spot it is to view art.

Owner Bernard Gerson is himself an accomplished photographer with an eye for the subtle and epiphanic, both in his own work and that on which he chooses to focus at his gallery. Take his season opener for 2012: an exhibition of “photo-paintings” by Susanna Briselli of Brooklyn, classical still-lifes combined with abstract floral and botanical imagery that celebrate the beauty of the season.

“Drawing and painting are tactile, hands-on media providing an infinite range of texture, color and means of personal expression. Photography is an ‘explicit’ medium using a mechanical tool and light to capture and record what exists in the ‘real’ world,” the artist says of her work. “My photo-paintings combine the explicit (the photograph) with the implicit (the feeling inherent in the subject expressed through drawing and painting). The results, as I see them, are images which offer the best of both worlds, and the processes involved in their creation are always a creative and technical challenge.”

Originally trained in her native Philadelphia, as well as at the Pratt Institute, in painting and drawing, Briselli revisited an early interest in photography by combining one medium directly over another, and exhibited the first “photo-paintings” in New York City in 1979. Over the past 30 years, she has continued to explore her own medium, with the result being that her works are now included in numerous private collections and publications.

The photographs themselves are silver gelatin (black-and-white) prints on fiber paper, with additional materials of artist’s oils, stains and graphite painted or drawn over them. “These photo-paintings, based as they are in gelatin silver film and chemical printing, are now true vintage objects, even though they were made in the recent past,” she says of what she does, acknowledging the shift in technology from process printing to digital photography and how it has affected her aesthetic. “In addition to each one being one-of-a-kind, they can/will no longer be produced as you see them again.”

“Still-Life/Photo-Paintings” will be on display from April 13 through May 21, with an artist’s reception scheduled for Saturday, April 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 12 noon to 5 p.m., or other times by appointment. For further information, visit Galerie BMG at 12 Tannery Brook Road in Woodstock, call (845) 679-0027 or visit


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