Stieg Pers­son Poly­phon­ic at The Ian Pot­ter Muse­um of Art

Mem Capp
ArtsHub, 8 May 2018
This exhi­bi­tion, cur­rent­ly show­ing at the Ian Pot­ter Gallery, is tes­ta­ment to an artist that con­tin­ues to resist the ready cat­e­gori­sa­tion of his work.
Review: Stieg Persson Polyphonic at The Ian Potter Museum of Art
Stieg Pers­son, Patholo­gie 2005, oil and alkyd resin on linen. Cour­tesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Stieg Pers­son:Poly­phon­ic, cur­rent­ly show­ing at the Ian Pot­ter Gallery, Mel­bourne Uni­ver­si­ty is tes­ta­ment to an artist that con­tin­ues to resist the ready cat­e­gori­sa­tion of his work through style, medi­um or sub­ject mat­ter. Emerg­ing as an artist in the Post­mod­ern era of the 1980s Pers­son dis­pensed with the notion of a fixed nar­ra­tive inter­pre­ta­tion of his work to explore what he calls the almost com­mu­ni­ca­tion of paint­ing’ per­haps not unlike the way a poet might chal­lenge our ways of see­ing through metaphor or alle­go­ry: using a mix of styles, tech­niques and medi­um from dec­o­ra­tion and col­lage to real­ism and abstrac­tion, paint and resin he grap­ples with the roles of artist and view­er in mak­ing mean­ing from his art. Like a poet­ic con­ceit Persson’s image-mak­ing requires time and con­tem­pla­tion on the part of the view­er; the wealth of these works is received through care­ful obser­va­tion and small real­i­sa­tions, as one might dis­cov­er in the pause between the lines of a poem. Span­ning two lev­els of the gallery, the cura­tors Direc­tor Kel­ly Gel­lat­ly and Exhi­bi­tions Coor­di­na­tor, Saman­tha Comte bring togeth­er the diver­si­ty of the artist’s work over a 30 year peri­od; draw­ing togeth­er loose threads that might reflect ideas on mor­tal­i­ty, or notions of high’ and low art’ or the way the past inter­sects with the present to pro­vide an insight into the art mak­ing of this impor­tant Aus­tralian artist and his cere­bral art-mak­ing process, wit and humour.  Stieg Pers­son, South 1998, oil on can­vas. Cour­tesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.  In the two ground floor rooms hang Persson’s dark, brood­ing ear­li­er works, large like the spaces they occu­py. To the right of the main hall hang a series of black oil paint­ings on cot­ton duck, inspired by the17th cen­tu­ry poet John Donne’s Devo­tions,(1624). Writ­ten after a peri­od of sick­ness that took the poet close to death Pers­son draws on Donne’s jour­ney from sick­ness to health to explore his own expe­ri­ence of res­i­den­cy in the Oncol­o­gy Depart­ment of Melbourne’s Repa­tri­a­tion Hos­pi­tal in1989. In works such as Our Faith Part 1: The Case For and Against Colour B , (198586) and The king sends his own physi­cian(1990) he search­es for a truth that lies below the sur­face; through rub­bing back wet black paint with tur­pen­tine soaked rags he cre­ates an x‑ray of sorts on the stretched can­vas. Accom­pa­ny­ing these works on the sur­round­ing walls are lit­er­al x‑rays, their redun­dan­cy iron­i­cal­ly exposed as much as any under­ly­ing truth; no longer in their med­ical con­text they become noth­ing more than mere two dimen­sion­al images on a page.  Stieg Pers­son, Spring thaw 1993, oil on can­vas. Cour­tesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.  Black is also a promi­nent com­po­nent in Persson’s Scan­di­na­vian death met­al pieces; a par­tic­u­lar­ly mor­bid ver­sion of heavy rock music. On the oppo­site side of the hall­way The Gothen­burg Cross­es series (199697), explores image mak­ing through a mar­gin­alised sub­cul­ture util­is­ing text and appro­pri­a­tion. Using oil on Masonite and oil on can­vas col­lage the series was begun whilst on res­i­den­cy in Gothen­burg Swe­den in 1996 and inspired by the strange imagery on the Death Met­al albums which drew from high art’ sources such as Hierony­mous Bosh and Gus­tave Dore. Through lay­ers of col­lage Pers­son plays on the conun­drum of mean­ing and con­text: as with some high art’ expos­ing how these dis­tort­ed, repur­posed images speak only to a spe­cialised group. Inspi­ra­tion behind works in the gallery’s first floor spaces come from a vari­ety of sources but Persson’s inter­est in text along with his love of Roco­co art and its excess­es, explored through the arabesque, can be seen in such works as Mid­dle Man­age­ment, oil on linen (2003): the beau­ty and super­fi­cial­i­ty of the painting’s flour­ish­es a pre­cur­sor per­haps to his its lat­er graf­fi­ti series.  Stieg Pers­son, Din­ner with the Abbotts 2014, oil on can­vas. Cour­tesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Works such as Monarch Cakes and Din­ner with the Abbotts, (2014) both oil on linen, respond to the grow­ing mid­dle-class obses­sion with food and its place in pop­u­lar cul­ture: as ubiq­ui­tous per­haps as the graf­fi­ti that adorns the streetscapes of our inner city sub­urbs. Stieg Pers­son is not afraid to explore the extremes of image mak­ing and pop­u­lar cul­ture in his quest to find an authen­tic lan­guage through which to com­mu­ni­cate his ideas. The Potter’s well designed gallery spaces allow for com­fort­able vis­i­tor flow whilst stair­case and lift pro­vide access to the upper gal­leries. The exhi­bi­tion is sup­port­ed by didac­tic and text pan­els along with a cat­a­logue which is avail­able in the exhi­bi­tion spaces. A fine­ly curat­ed exhibition. 
Fea­tured image: Stieg Pers­son, Patholo­gie 2005, oil and alkyd resin on linen. Arti­cle link: here
Filter

Shaun Glad­well: 2022 Ade­laide Bien­ni­al of Aus­tralian Art: Free/​State

Shaun Glad­well has been select­ed along with 25 lead­ing Aus­tralian con­tem­po­rary artists to participate […]

Read More

Cal­lum Mor­ton & Mar­co Fusina­to: All That Was Sol­id Melts’ at Auck­land Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

All That Was Sol­id Melts takes us on a jour­ney from iso­la­tion through the multiple […]

Read More

Daniel Von Sturmer: Time in Mate­r­i­al (RGB)’ at The Cen­tre for Pro­jec­tion Art, Colling­wood Yards

Daniel Von Sturmer’s sin­gle chan­nel video work Time in Mate­r­i­al (RGB), 2019 is presented […]

Read More

Angel­i­ca Mesi­ti: Choose Hap­pi­ness’ Mur­ray Art Muse­um Albury

Hap­pi­ness is by its very nature ephemer­al. Some­times it is a state that we might […]

Read More

GABRIEL­LA MANGANO & SIL­VANA MANGANO: The Oth­er Por­trait, curat­ed by Julie Rrap and Cher­ine Fahd at SCA Gallery

The Oth­er Por­trait brings togeth­er work by artists who have an estab­lished rela­tion­ship to […]

Read More

David Noo­nan: Stage­craft’ cat­a­logue wins MAP­DA 2021 award for Best Small Exhi­bi­tion Catalogue

David Noo­nan: Stage­craft, designed by Ben Cox and pub­lished on the occa­sion of the […]

Read More

Daniel Crooks and Angel­i­ca Mesi­ti: A Sto­ry for the Future’ MAXXI’s First Decade, Fon­dazione MAXXI, Rome, Italy

On the occa­sion of its tenth anniver­sary, MAXXI presents an exhi­bi­tion that has been […]

Read More

Angel­i­ca Mesi­ti: The Musi­cal Brain’ The High Line, New York

Angel­i­ca Mesi­ti is one of four artists includ­ed in The Musi­cal Brain, a video exhibition […]

Read More

Emi­ly Floyd: Edu­ca­tion: Alter­na­tives and the Academy

Edu­ca­tion: Alter­na­tives and The Acad­e­mySpeak­ers: Emi­ly Floyd and Gridthiya Gawee­wong Edu­ca­tion: Alter­na­tives and The […]

Read More

Mar­co Fusina­to: Ter­mi­nal Gui­tar’, Dark Mofo

Ter­mi­nal Gui­tar, Dark Mofo 2021 Mar­co Fusina­to + Mys­tic Eyes (Lisa MacK­in­ney) + Bruce Russell […]

Read More

Amri­ta Hepi: OUT­SIDE INHOT­LINE LAUNCHED

In the lead up to the 2021 Fre­man­tle Bien­nale, Amri­ta Hepi launched an international […]

Read More

John Nixon, Stephen Bram & Rose Nolan, Cook­ing with John’ curat­ed by Amalia Lin­do & Jacque­line Stojanović

Hay­dens, Mel­bourne 10 — 12 More­land Road Brunswick East, 3057 Exhi­bi­tion open­ing: 22 May from  […]

Read More

Emi­ly Floyd, Louisa Bufarde­ci & Su san Cohn, We Change the World’ The Ian Pot­ter Cen­tre: NGV Aus­tralia, Lev­el 3

Works by Emi­ly Floyd, Louisa Bufarde­ci & Su san Cohn will be on dis­play as […]

Read More

Angel­i­ca Mesi­ti: Borås Art Biennial

Deep lis­ten­ing for long­ingBorås Art Bien­ni­al 2021May 29 – Sep­tem­ber 262021 The 2021 edition […]

Read More

Emi­ly Floyd, OPEN SPACE!’, George Street, Sydney

A large scale new pub­lic art­work by Emi­ly Floyd has been unveiled in Sydney’s […]

Read More

John Nixon: profile

Iter­a­tions: John Nixon Not far from where St Kil­da beach forms a firm line against the […]

Read More

Lau­ren Brin­cat, Louisa Bufarde­ci & Daniel Crooks, Tar­raWar­ra Bien­ni­al 2021: Slow Mov­ing Waters’

Lau­ren Brin­cat, Louisa Bufarde­ci & Daniel Crooks have each been com­mis­sioned to cre­ate new work […]

Read More

DIS­CUS­SION: Shaun Glad­well & Dr. Sean Lowry

Dr Sean Lowry, Head of Crit­i­cal and The­o­ret­i­cal Stud­ies, Vic­to­ri­an Col­lege of the Arts […]

Read More

Three exhi­bi­tions to see in New York this weekend

Daniel Crooks: the Sub­tle Knife­Un­til 31 Jan­u­ary in Times Square, Man­hat­tan As the residual […]

Read More

More Than 40 Inter­na­tion­al Gal­leries Are Col­lab­o­rat­ing on a New Auc­tion-Style Sales Plat­form Cham­pi­oning Art From the Glob­al South

Dozens of gal­leries have come togeth­er to take part in an inno­v­a­tive sale and […]

Read More

New gallery plat­form South South launch­es to pro­mote art from out­side the dom­i­nant US-Europe axis

We talk a lot, in the US-Euro­­pean focused art world, about increas­ing the promi­nence of […]

Read More

Daniel Crooks: Asia Soci­ety Tri­en­ni­al, New York

The inau­gur­al Asia Soci­ety Tri­en­ni­al opens today 27 Octo­ber, 2020 in New York City, and […]

Read More

John Nixon Test­ed the Vital­i­ty of Geo­met­ric Abstraction

“… Nixon was not only an artist but a cura­tor, musi­cian, gal­lerist, small-press pub­lish­er and […]

Read More

Lau­ren Brin­cat: Wool­lahra Small Sculp­ture Prize

The 20th annu­al Wool­lahra Small Sculp­ture Prize exhi­bi­tion, includ­ing Lau­ren Brin­cat, will be presented […]

Read More