Susan Norrie

French Painting from Les Romans de Cape et D’epee series, 1987
oil on canvas
239 x 189 cm (image); 248 x 195 cm (frame)
signed and dated ‘Susan Norrie/87’ (lower right)

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Painted in Hautvillers (outside of Paris in the Champagne Region), France during the artist's residency with Moet & Chandon
Mori Gallery, Sydney
Estate of the Late Tom & Eva Breuer, Sydney

Susan Norrie, L'Hotel Pozzo di Borgo, Paris, November 1987; Galerie Passages, Troves, 9 January - 28 February 1988 and Foire D'Art Contemporain, Stockholm, 16-21 March 1988

Moira McConnell, 'Susan Norrie - French polish', Good Weekend, date unknown (circa 1987), p.20-24; illus. p.21
Gregory Burke, Breathing Space: Painting and surface displacement in the work of Susan Norrie, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1994,

"Coinciding with that residency (Moët et Chandon fellow in France in 1987), Norrie produced a suite of paintings that formed the
basis of successive exhibitions in Paris and Troyes. Titled les roman de cape et d’épée, these
works, coupled with their installation in distinctly different spaces, advanced concerns and
introduced conceptual strategies that have come to characterise her recent practice as an artist
and painter.

In particular, with these works, Norrie initiated her paradoxical treatment of painting as subject, surface, and object; as well as her frictional siting of painting within and against overlapping subjective and objective constructs of space.
In many ways the two installations were parts of the one project. The first was remarkable in that it took place in l'Hotel Pozzo di Bargo in the course of one night, a temporal frame suggestive of the performative, of dreaming, of the rhythms of the body. Set up in the ballroom of a large aristocratic eighteenth-century house, the presence these paintings achieved was emphasised by their overarching scale and their placement on easels.

Unrestrained by the perimeter wall this unruly configuration transgressed that very boundary
that paintings conventionally embellish. But despite their move into sculptural space, the works
paraded their status as surfaces, tensioned by multiple references to discrete moments in the
history of painting. Simultaneously mannerist, heroic and pop in sensibility, these renderings of
mythical subjects meddled with the conventions of portraiture. Their carnivalesque quality
merged with the system of their display to nuance their surrogate role as players, a theatricality
further accentuated by Norrie's use of stage lighting. Thus, transformed by the shifting parameters of reception, the works synchronised both an entry into and a description of an
expository space." (Gregory Burke, Breathing Space: Painting and surface displacement in the work of Susan Norrie, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1994)

  • French Painting from Les Romans de Cape et D’epee series

Image courtesy of the artist

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Susan Norrie's preoccupation with politics and the environment have
always informed the subject matter of her work. From the feminist overtones of
her earlier series 'Lavished Living', (1983-1984) and 'Objet D'Art' (1988), to
her comments on consumerism found in her series 'Tall Tales and True'
(1986-1987) and 'Peripherique' (1989), or to the more recent video works
'Undertow' (2002) and the geologically and politically volatile view of
Indonesia documented in 'Havoc', seen at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Norrie’s
diverse oeuvre is challenging and, at times, polemical in its honest
deconstruction of modern society. 

After studying painting at the National Art School, Sydney and the National
Gallery School, Melbourne in the 1970s, Norrie began creating films and
installation pieces in the mid-1990s; works that blur the line between art and documentary.
The beauty of Norrie’s works – whether it be painting, drawing, installation or
video – is Norrie's control of media and materiality. The tactile quality of
her surfaces are often a contradictory experience to the harsh reality of the
stories she tells.

From the moment Norrie began exhibiting in 1982, her work has been
highly regarded for being both conceptually and materially advanced. In 1987, she
won the first Moet & Chandon prize for an artist under 35, which became a
pivotal point in her career. Since then, she has held residencies at Greene
Street Studio, New York, and in New Zealand and Germany. She received the 1997
Seppelt Prize, Contemporary Art Award, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. In
1999 she received an Australia Council Fellowship, and in 2004 she received an
APA Scholarship for PhD Studies at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Norrie’s work has been exhibited in many international and national
surveys of contemporary art. She represented Australia at the 2007 Venice
Biennale, and has been in important group shows including the Montreal Biennale (2015); the Biennale of Sydney (2014, 2004); the Yokohama Triennale (2011); In the Balance: Art for a Changing World,
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2010); and Figuring Landscapes, Tate Modern, London (2008). Norrie's work has been written on extensively and is held in all state and most regional gallery
collections of Australia, as well as in the Auckland City Art Gallery and the
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.