Stieg Persson: Polyphonic explored the rich, complex and beguiling practice of Melbourne-based artist Stieg Persson. Bringing together work spanning a 30-year career, this major exhibition provided the opportunity to reflect upon the preoccupations and concerns that thread through and bind the artist’s expansive practice: issues of mortality and the human condition; the ongoing relevance and importance of the past; the ebb and flow of notions of taste and class; and underpinning these intersecting interests, the fundamental question about just what is the contribution of art to contemporary life. As Persson asks, ‘Does art any longer have any faith in its ability to be an authentic form of self-expression?’
Persson’s exquisitely crafted paintings please and tease the eye and mind, deftly combining the artist’s acute observations of western culture and its obsessions with his extensive art historical knowledge. With subjects ranging across sickness and mortality, Swedish Death Metal, everyday objects (such as a coil of picture wire or the tree outside his studio window) to our contemporary fascination with cooking and food, Persson’s paintings both collapse and joyfully confound our desire to understand and experience time and art history in clearly delineated periods.
Stieg Persson is an alumnus of the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts, graduating with a Bachelor of Art (Painting) in 1981 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1998. Persson completed his PhD at the VCA in 2018; examples of this work were included in the exhibition.
Persson is represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery
Curators: Kelly Gellatly and Samantha Comte