Stieg Pers­son
Old Europe

19th November – 28th December 2008
Anna Schwartz Gallery Carriageworks

We live in an era where there is no sin­gle, per­sua­sive the­o­ry of paint­ing. The plu­ral­ism of the post­mod­ernist land­scape has pro­duced its own ortho­dox­ies, but still there is no main­stream, no Lone­ly Plan­et guide. In some ways there could be seen to be an absence of pur­pose in con­tem­po­rary painting.

Pop­u­lar cul­ture, once the inspi­ra­tion of artists from Warhol to Koons, now exerts an increas­ing­ly tyran­ni­cal influ­ence on art prac­tice, and the art indus­try. At the crux of this con­di­tion is the ascen­dan­cy of a con­tem­po­rary art that sub­lim­i­nal­ly mim­ics neolib­er­al eco­nom­ics to its very core.

The post­war cor­po­rate and indus­tri­al cul­ture of the Unit­ed States is cen­tral to the under­stand­ing of the art of Stel­la and Warhol; their clear desire to be at one with their times was man­i­fest not only in their aes­thet­ics, but also their work prac­tices. It was, how­ev­er, the Bel­gian, Mar­cel Broodthaers who saw the future. Ducham­p’s aver­sion to man­u­al labour was the prece­dent, but Broodthaers under­stood the shift from blue to white-col­lar culture.

In 1968 Broodthaers cre­at­ed his Muse­um of Mod­ern Art, Depart­ment of Eagles, a con­cep­tu­al muse­um. Antag­o­nists to paint­ing, such as Ben­jamin Buchloh have cit­ed this work as the moment when the con­tem­po­rary artist’s role shift­ed from arti­sanal to man­age­r­i­al, the self-expres­sive to the con­cep­tu­al. It is no coin­ci­dence that this moment mir­rors the shift in the west­ern econ­o­my from man­u­fac­tur­ing to knowl­edge indus­tries in the late twen­ti­eth century.

The man­age­r­i­al is now seen to be a pro­gres­sive mode of artis­tic pro­duc­tion. Under­ly­ing this is the belief that that all advanced art is con­cep­tu­al. In Joseph Kosuth’s words, a work of art is a kind of propo­si­tion pre­sent­ed with­in the con­text of art as a com­ment on art. Paint­ing now exists along­side instal­la­tion, per­for­mance, film and inter­ac­tive media.

The works in Old Europe evolved in full aware­ness of this propo­si­tion of the broad­er con­text in which paint­ing finds itself. In dif­fer­ent ways, the works are provo­ca­tions about their con­text, much as Kosuth might artic­u­late it. But rather than assum­ing that the lan­guage of paint­ing is redun­dant, Pers­son enjoys a free­dom to choose from its rich heritage.

Flat expans­es of hard-edged colour col­lide with soft translu­cent forms. Organ­ic forms are sub­ject to sim­ple com­po­si­tions, for­mal and heraldic. They are repeat­ed, but nev­er pre­cise­ly. Some shapes have shad­ows but they are made with light reflec­tive metal­lic paint. The ges­tures drip freely only to be entombed by the paint­ed ground. Dec­o­ra­tive scrolls, pink and blue, black and white, brand the paint­ings, per­haps form­ing let­ters or even words, per­haps not. Always there is a dance between the mate­ri­al­i­ty of the work and the wit of its elu­sive sub­ject mat­ter, hint­ed at in the titles, but inevitably return­ing the view­er to the com­plex­i­ty of the phys­i­cal paint­ing itself.

The project bypass­es the exhaust­ed debates about paint­ing’s rel­e­vance. It restates the pos­si­bil­i­ties that paint­ing con­tin­ues to offer and is a ded­i­cat­ed explo­ration of its his­to­ry, the hid­den foun­da­tion of all con­tem­po­rary art, its Euro­pean ori­gins, its Euro­pean DNA.

Images

Stieg Pers­son

Old Europe, 2008
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Stieg Pers­son

Old Europe, 2008
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Stieg Pers­son

Old Europe, 2008
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Stieg Pers­son

Old Europe, 2008
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Stieg Pers­son

Old Europe, 2008
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Old Europe, 2008
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Stieg Pers­son

Old Europe, 2008
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Stieg Pers­son

Sec­ond Empire, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
229167 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Third Repub­lic III, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
229167 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Ruskin, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
229167 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Das Alte Europa, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
229167 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Ségolène Roy­al, 2008
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
213183 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Ger­hard Schröder, 2008
oil and alkyd resin on linen
213183 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Her­culex®, 2008
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
219183 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Mar­tyr­dom, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Ga ga, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
153128 cm

Su san Cohn

Good­bye, 2015
60227 cm; dig­i­tal video: 1 minute

Say Good­bye to Agapanthus, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
154128 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Lit­tle Gerhard, 2008
oil and alkyd resin on linen
122112 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Lit­tle North­ern Blight, 2008
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
122112 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Alber­tine, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
122112 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Com­mon Smut, 2008
Oil and alkyd resin on linen
122112 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Winck­el­mann in Trieste, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
229167 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Sign­or Giovanni, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
229167 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Ermine, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Mon­sieur de Charlus, 2008
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Race to the Bottom, 2008
Oil on linen
213152 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Down­ward Harmonisation, 2008
Oil on linen
213152 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Sar­banes-Oxley, 2008
Oil on linen
122112 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Frenched, 2007
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
213152 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Judge­ment of Paris, 2007
oil on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Present, 2007
Oil and metal­lic paint on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Vair, 2007
Oil on linen
183168 cm

Stieg Pers­son

Clash The­o­ry, 2006
Oil & alkyd resin on linen
183168 cm