Stieg Pers­son
His­to­ry Painting

1st – 25th November 2006
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Stieg Persson’s new work con­sid­ers the moral dimen­sion of paint­ing. The works tack­le some of the eth­i­cal conun­drums of our time by com­mu­ni­cat­ing cer­tain atti­tudes to con­tem­po­rary events. These works eschew post­mod­ernist irony, or appro­pri­at­ed imagery and seek, instead, to express out­rage, sor­row and a sense of perversity.

Persson’s paint­ings pos­sess an abstract poise, ten­der pas­sages, strong com­po­si­tions and dynam­ic forms. For­mal­ly, they are cap­ti­vat­ing works and, as such, reveal their debt to the strin­gent flat­ness and com­po­si­tion­al log­ic of Colour­field paint­ing. Except, they are most­ly black � blue black, brown black, grey black, cool and warm. When they are not black, the paint­ings con­tain sien­na, umber, red ochre, mush­room grey and cream — sub­dued colours that shift with changes in light. The artist’s use of black com­mu­ni­cates themes of memo­r­i­al, loss and the inex­plic­a­ble side of our sub-con­scious. Black can also sug­gest a kind of emp­ty­ing out, the lack of light, the dark­ness of night or of the mind.

Since the ear­ly 1980s, Stieg Pers­son has been inter­est­ed in what he calls the almost com­mu­ni­ca­tion’ of paint­ing. Text in Persson’s paint­ings is large­ly inde­ci­pher­able, either because it is in a goth­ic script, or the words them­selves make no sense, com­mu­ni­cat­ing, most recent­ly, in the mode of those mis­spelt spam emails that try to get past var­i­ous fil­ters, for exam­ple, vjja­gra (sic). Persson’s ear­li­er use of the abstract arabesque also ref­er­ences writ­ing, with­out actu­al­ly depict­ing lan­guage. These flour­ish­es of white curlicues are like an elab­o­rate script that has been frozen in a state of unfurled tran­quil­i­ty. The artist’s use of text comes to be a metaphor for the act of paint­ing itself. On one hand, paint­ing com­mu­ni­cates through its own build­ing blocks colour, form, tex­ture, com­po­si­tion, image. On the oth­er hand, paint­ing’s inter­nal log­ic, which iron­i­cal­ly is made up of these very same ele­ments, cre­ates a suite of visu­al rela­tion­ships that can be con­tra­dic­to­ry, open to mul­ti­ple inter­pre­ta­tions, or can fold in on them­selves, sealed in silence. This is the almost com­mu­ni­ca­tion’ of paint­ing, that so encour­ages this artist to keep paint­ing. After twen­ty years, we can eas­i­ly recog­nise both the lan­guage and tem­pera­ment of Persson’s works — they dis­solve the mod­ernist par­a­digm while at the same time extend­ing its for­mal strengths.

- Excerpts from Vic­to­ria Lynn, His­to­ry Paint­ing, in Stieg Pers­son (ed), His­to­ry Paint­ing, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Mel­bourne, 2006

Images

Stieg Pers­son

A Wor­ri­some Pathology, 2006
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
153128 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Aspi­ra­tional Abstraction, 2006
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
218183 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Coro­na, 2006
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Hail to the Chief, 2006
Oil on linen
213152 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Le Petit Cerf, 2006
Oil on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Lit­tle Saul, 2006
Oil, alkyd resin and metal­lic paint on linen
122112 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Lit­tle Venge­ful Restlessness, 2006
oil, alkyd resin on linen
122112 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Mal­adie, 2006
oil, alkyd resin on linen
9276 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Man­i­fest Destiny, 2006
Oil on linen
153128 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Patholo­gia, 2006
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Patholo­gie, 2006
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Pret­ty Flower, 2006
oil on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Rose et Brun, 2006
oil and alkyd resin on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Sebastopol Street by Night, 2006
oil on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Sin­is­ter, 2006
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Son in Service, 2006
Oil on linen
9276 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Spooky, 2006
oil and metal­lic paint on linen
7261 cm

Stieg Pers­son

The Fourth Howard Min­istry wish­es you a very Bie­der­meier Christmas, 2006
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
229168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Trade Weight­ed, 2006
Oil on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Vin­di­catif, 2006
oil and alkyd resin on linen
5146 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Fac­torVI­II, 2005
oil and alkyd resin on linen
122112 cm