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By Maureen Mullarkey

Susannah Phillips, a former student of Sir William Coldstream and Euan Uglow, lives and works in Montreal. Her fist show at Lori Bookstein Fine Art is a gracious, lively debut. Her work combines the gestural vivacity and painterly ease of accomplished abstraction with a strong affinity for observation. Particularly distinctive is her ability to enkindle the gray scale and convey an impression of color with a limited palette.

“Grey Interior” (2004) and “White Still Life” (2004) illustrate how little chroma is needed to infuse an image with coloristic vitality simply by sunning or cooling its values. I particularly like her darkened still lifes, in which different spatial devices are reconciled by an emcompassing mood. Ms. Phillips’s gifts are abundantly clear. Less evident is where heart lies: in the swing and movement that the living figure provides pretext for, or in darkening, architectural still lifes.