Suzanne Archer | Theatre of Bones

In a personal reflection, Suzanne Archer's latest exhibition 'Theatre of bones' brings the skeleton to life in an examination of the artist's self and her enduring practice.

A recurring symbol throughout art, Archer’s animation of the skeleton resists a morbid tone. More vaudeville than macarbe, her portraits brazenly pull back the human condition – right down to the bone. “I find the image of the skeleton both scary and ludicrous”, Suzanne Archer said. “Ageing as a subject has been part of my ongoing series about my Self.”

Literally the skeleton in her studio, Archer’s relationship with the skeleton had practical beginnings, as she outlines, “I began to use parts of a skeleton after fracturing my pelvis in a fall on my way from my house to the studio at night. My usual curiosity led me to research my injury, requesting an x-ray from the hospital and, on my return home, I used that initially in drawing incorporated in to the work The Glass Depository an installation shown in an exhibition in Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery in 2014. I then naturally went on to purchase a facsimile of a pelvis, a skull and finally the whole skeleton. The full figure of the skeleton amused me standing there quietly in my studio so I then began to string it up in various ridiculous poses as the subject for a series of canvasses followed by works on paper, artist books and sculptures.”

Drawn from a body of work that has gradually developed over time, the positioning of the skeleton in her studio has resulted in a varied body of work. “The skeleton plays a large part in that story of ageing but for me it is about lightening the subject and looking at the personality of my skeleton standing in the studio and laughing with it. I am sure it is amused by me and my studio obsessions, as it watches grinning in the corner.”

As the title suggests the exhibition is a “show”, reinvigorating the subject of ageing in a wry and honest tone that does not shirk away from the realities of the subject.

Gallery Director Janet Clayton said that, for those who know Archer’s work, the final outcome is not a call to the viewer to find beauty but rather an offer to confront honesty. “Archer’s subjects are often taboo”, Janet Clayton said. “Her brilliant technique makes little concession to notions of taste in a world where cool minimalism, precision or carefully worked design are often the bywords for good art” she said. “ Yet there is no angst or judgement in her approach. She exposes herself, not us, with whimsy and bravery. The result is compelling.”

Theatre of Bones opens this Sunday 11 September.

EXHBITION
Suzanne Archer | Theatre of Bones
7 September to 2 October 2016.  
Opening  Sunday 11 September 3 – 5pm
Janet Clayton Gallery 

Courtesy the artist and Janet Clayton Gallery, Sydney

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