Suzanne Perlman was born into a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary on 18 October 1922; her parents were antique dealers and collectors and she grew up surrounded by art and artists. In 1940 she married Henri Perlman, a Dutch businessman and scholar, with whom she briefly moved to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, before, amid the chaos of war, they were forced to flee via Paris only three days before the German Occupation. After boarding the Orient Express bound for Bordeaux, they sailed to the southern Caribbean island of Curaçao, off the Venezuelan coast, in the Dutch Antilles. They settled in the small capital city of Willemstad, and for the next twenty years ran their own art and antiques store, while Suzanne established her own studio in a large attic above the shop, and began painting the local colourful street life.
Later, Perlman went on to study at Columbia University, New York, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico and, then, at St Martin’s School of Art in London. In the 1960s after attending a workshop in Salzburg run by renowned Austrian Expressionist Oscar Kokoschka, she was invited to work alongside him in his studio. Kokoschka became a major and enduring influence upon her work, inspiring the ‘expressionist dash’ (identified by The Times art critic John Russell Taylor) and joyful palette that she employed in her painting from then on. In 1990 she moved to London where she continued to paint and exhibit until her death. The city has been an ongoing and resonant theme in her work: part fantasy and part documentary and was the subject of a special exhibition, curated by Ben Uri Gallery in 2014. Suzanne Perlman died in London, England on 2 August 2020. Her work is in many public collections including the Jewish Museum, London; the Parliamentary Art Collection (House of Lords); and the Ruth Borchard Collection in the UK; The Jewish Museum and The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam; The Municipal Museum, Gouda and The Royal Collection in the Netherlands; the Municipal Museum, Curaçao; the Jewish Museum, Venice, in Italy; and the Jewish Museum Budapest in Hungary.