Articles and Features

Susana Aldanondo – The Street as a Studio 

Susana Aldanondo
Susana Aldanondo sitting across from the street where she paints in Soho, New York City. Courtesy of the artist

By Shira Wolfe

“I am an abstract painter, there is something about it that comes so naturally, my soul keeps calling me to the freedom that I own when I create abstract work.”

Susana Aldanondo

Susana Aldanondo is an Argentine-American painter based in New York City. Her painting practice, deeply informed by Abstract Expressionism, explores the relationship between place, music and identity. Currently an Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, she is known for stepping out into the streets of New York and creating her studio there, painting in the city’s vibrant public spaces. In anticipation of several upcoming exhibitions, we feature the artist’s personal creative practice and public cultural activism. 

“Someone once asked me: ‘What do you feel when you paint here?’ and my answer was: ‘I feel alive, I feel that I become a part of this city, and my work does too.’”

Susana Aldanondo 

From Buenos Aires to New York

Susana Aldanondo was born in a suburb of Buenos Aires, where art surrounded her constantly from an early age. Her father was an artist and was always painting and creating while listening to tango music daily. During her teenage years, the family emigrated to New York, where Aldanondo would eagerly accompany her father on outings to buy paint for his artworks. Spending these formative years in New York City was incredibly important for the development of her own artistic practice. “The nostalgic immigrant experience, which is also what drove the invention of tango in Buenos Aires, has informed a good portion of my work in painting, especially when I’d paint to music to create work inspired by memory,” reflects Aldanondo. Her experience as a Latin-American artist in New York combined with the development she went through by living in New York together form the foundation of her painting work. In her more delicate ceramics work, which she has been developing more recently, Aldanondo focuses on exploring the vulnerability of the human experience, with the aim to create conscience and empathy towards people struggling and facing injustices.  

From Abstract Expressionism Toward Figurative Art

Aldanondo is primarily known as an abstract painter, painting within the legacy of the great abstract expressionists that came before her. A graduate of the Fine Arts Program at The Art Students League of New York, she follows in the footsteps of many revered abstract expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko who studied there, as well as boundary-breaking female artists including Yayoi Kusama, Louise Bourgeois and Georgia O’Keeffe.  

“I am an abstract painter, there is something about it that comes so naturally, my soul keeps calling me to the freedom that I own when I create abstract work,” she explains. Yet contrary to what has typically been the case throughout art history, her journey started with abstract expressionism and is developing towards figurative art. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca — founded by Andy Warhol in 1982 —where she explores academic realism and figurative art. 

“Historically artists have moved from formal realisms or figurative art into abstraction, seeking freedom of expression. I’m doing the opposite,” elaborates Aldanondo. She describes it as having found her freedom very naturally, and then going off to explore other disciplines and styles in order to deepen her knowledge and understanding of art and challenge herself to create work through observation and form. Always returning to abstract work though, the realism and figurative practice also bring other layers and new ways of seeing to her abstractions. 

Susana Aldanondo
Susana Aldanondo’s artwork in the streets of New York. Courtesy of the artist.

The Street as a Studio

An important part of Aldanondo’s artistic practice involves painting in the streets of New York, often painting on and pasting canvases to public fences covered with advertisements. While this practice initially began several years ago because she lacked a studio space, it quickly became clear that the city as a studio enriched Aldanondo’s art immensely. She began by painting abstract works inspired by the locations in which she would paint, but at some point, when feeling the need to paint on a larger scale, she decided to temporarily attach the canvases to construction walls. Here, Aldanondo truly became a part of the bustling city of New York, interacting with its people and spaces in the middle of the artistic process. In doing so, she is also lifting the veil that so often shrouds artists’ art-making process in the studio, and blurs the boundaries between street art and fine art. “Someone once asked me: ‘What do you feel when you paint here?’ and my answer was: ‘I feel alive, I feel that I become a part of this city, and my work does too,’” says Aldanondo. 

“I let my work sway in the breeze, echoing the freedom associated with abstraction.” — Susana Aldanondo. Courtesy of the artist.

Cultural Activism

Not only an adventurous artist in her own right, Aldanondo also gives a great deal back to other artists and vulnerable communities. Between 2021-2023, she supported artists from all over the world by promoting their art in New York City through posters displayed in different locations in the city, and on screens in Times Square. She also arranged for their participation in exhibitions, including the Hamptons Fine Art Fair 2022 and TriBeCa Art Show 2023. With respect for their financial limitations, African and Iranian artists were exempt from any participation fees. 

Aldanondo often rents walls at different exhibition spaces and curates features within exhibitions. An avid talent hunter, she frequently features the works of artists she collects, supporting their increase in value and demand in the art market. As an independent curator, she works with NYC-based organizations to curate their social media feed during exhibitions and has curated the Tribeca Show in December 2023, also returning in 2024.

Aldanondo’s socially engaged practice has also involved art workshops for inmates in the largest prison in Iceland. Her painting workshop, attended by approximately 40 inmates, was aimed at supporting them to express their emotions through visual language and providing a sense of community extending beyond the prison walls. Art as a tool that can be used for psychosocial support, healing, and community building, lies at the very core of Aldanondo’s practice.  

She brings her painting out of the classical concept of the art studio and into the real, chaotic, confusing and bustling world. There, the elements of uncertainty, improvisation and communication collide with her art, and that’s when stories are truly told. 

Get the chance to see Susana Aldanondo’s work in person at one of her upcoming exhibitions: 

  • The TriBeCa Ball at the New York Academy of Art, April 1st, 2024; Preview gallery access via The New York Academy of Art website
  • The Hall of Fame Gala at Gotham by the New York Foundation for the Arts, April 3rd, 2024. Online Auction goes live on March 20th.
  • Ceramics Salon at the Phyllis Harriman-Mason Gallery (57th Street), April 1st – 6th, 2024.  
  • The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Benefit at Storage Gallery in TriBeCa; Auction to go live on May 14th, 2024
  • Open Studios at the New York Academy of Art, TriBeCa, May 9th, 2024; 
  • Blue Mountain Gallery July Group Exhibition in Chelsea, New York, July 2024;
  • Hamptons Fine Art Fair – Southhampton, New York, July 11th-14th, 2024;

Aldanondo’s work is also included in important collections such as the Permanent Collection at the Art Students League in New York, the Consulate of Argentina in New York, and Iris Afpel’s collection.

Relevant sources to learn more

More articles from Artland Magazine you may like:
Art Movement: Abstract Expressionism
A Guide to Abstract Art
Interview with Nevena Prijic
Lost (and Found) Artist Series: Lynne Drexler
Ninth Street Women: Rethinking Abstract Expressionism
Lost (and Found) Artist Series: Lee Krasner

Other relevant sources:
Susana Aldanondo website
Susana Aldanondo on Instagram

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