Existing in an apparently paradoxical state - encompassing at once creation and destruction, decay and resurrection - the artworks of Susan Roux evoke a sense of memory both personal and historical. Through focussed and repetitive processes of tearing, creasing, stitching, marking, puncturing, and repairing, Susan transforms paper from its familiar, humble materiality into crumpled and weathered surfaces that seem almost to exist outside of time, though irrevocably marked by it.
Dilettante visited Susan's studio to immerse ourselves in her richly textural works and glean an insight into the mind behind this spellbinding practice.
Dilettante: You only began to practice as an artist quite recently - six or seven years ago. Did you always plan to work as an artist?
Susan: I studied art and my love and background have always been art. I have been studying and reading art all my life, but only really had the opportunity to practice my art once my kids were older. I certainly welcomed the opportunity to do so here in Perth and reflect on the world from here.
D: You have developed such a distinct visual language around your use of paper. What first brought you to paper as a matieral and medium?
S: My first love is drawing, and I see drawing as an extension of the hand. Paper is a very patient medium, humble, and malleable, capable of taking a hammering and undergoing change without complaining or protest.
D:Your process involves many tools that are familiar in dressmaking - sewing machines, thread and needles - and some of your works have taken the form of garments. What do you find compelling about these tools? Do you have an interest in dressing the body?
S: I do have an interest in dressing the body. The body is often a point of departure in my practice. The tools I make and use often form part of my artistic concept and my (re)search. The tools allow me the act of ‘making’, and to find a mark that suits my concept.
D: Black, white, and grey seem to play an important role in your work. Tell us about your relationship with colour.
S: At the moment, the marks I make act as the colour in my work, but I am busy exploring some actual colour(s)that are of interest to me.
Shimmering navy velvet shift dress by Song for the Mute.
D: There is a tension in your work between destruction and repair; you simultaneously degrade and reinforce your materials through your process. Is there a relationship between cruelty and kindness?
S: I think maybe I use the contrast between cruelty and kindness to see what it brings, what ideas originate from it and what “language” is born from this contrast or paradox.
D: Can you share some people whose work you find inspiring?
S: There are so many. The Perth-born philosopher Nandi Theunissen’s book “The Value of Humanity” is currently a big inspiration. Others during my life have been Foucault, Brain Eno, Tomaso Albinoni, Rick Owens, Dilettante, Anselm Kiefer, Marlene Dumas, my mother.
Textural khaki knitted dress by MM6 Maison Margiela. Rings Susan's own.
D: What forthcoming projects are you excited to be working on?
S: I have a solo exhibition coming up at Art Collective next year, which I am really looking forward to.