University of Western Australia: New exhibition considers what lies under the painted surface

A new exhibition of paintings by Australian artist Susan Norrie and portraits from The University of Western Australia’s Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art (CCWA) will open next month at The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at UWA.

Curated by CCWA’s Lee Kinsella, the exhibition is an exploration of the performative nature of painting and identity.

“Portraits are understood as visual representations of individuals – but the apparent ease with which we can read these images conceals how they have been produced,” Ms Kinsella said.

“Artists have made countless decisions as they have applied pigmented oil paints to canvas. Artists Sue Wyatt and Mary Edwards have been Archibald Prize finalists, and both engage with portraiture as a means of asserting particular identities in the public realm.”

A chronological display of portraits from the CCWA collection will feature opposite a wall of enigmatic and predominantly dark paintings by Norrie.

“Norrie desires to break open the apparently seamless skin of paintings to reveal the motivations and social conventions of their making,” Ms Kinsella said. “Her works are conceptual in that they engage with the subjective processes of both making and viewing art. Norrie’s paintings present lush and beguiling surfaces that allude to uncanny and potentially troubling currents beneath.”

Following a refurbishment of the gallery in June, additional paintings by Norrie will be hung alongside student responses to her practice.

“I’m excited to be working with an engaged group of students as we research the strong holdings of work by Susan Norrie at UWA,” Ms Kinsella said. “Susan has been extremely generous in agreeing to be part of this process and it is a unique learning opportunity for UWA students to be able to engage directly with an artist of Norrie’s standing.”

The exhibition runs from February 12 to December 10 and the gallery is closed for renovations from April 24 reopening on June 25. LWAG is open 12pm-5pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays. A free public program of talks, tours will accompany the new exhibition.

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