Stieg Persson: Polyphonic

Stieg Persson, Middle Management 2003Exploring the rich, complex and beguiling practice of Melbourne-based artist Stieg Persson, The Ian Potter Museum of Art brings together work spanning a thirty-year career in Stieg Persson: Polyphonic from 27 March 2018.

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, Norwegian 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 accomplished painter and his works are both visually compelling and beautifully crafted,” says Curator Kelly Gellatly. “However, if this is all that Stieg managed to achieve in his practice, his contribution would be much diminished. Stieg Persson’s conceptually rigourous paintings provoke us to think about our lives and the issues we face in contemporary life.”

“They create spaces of contemplation for the viewer; spaces in which we’re encouraged to sit and spend time with the concerns that circulate on his canvases. Importantly, in our increasingly busy and full lives, these works ask that we slow down and let them work on us, and this is where their power resides.”

This major exhibition provides 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?”

Stieg Persson is an alumnus of the Victorian College of the Arts, graduating with a Bachelor of Art (Painting) in 1981 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1998. He has been exhibiting for over three decades with a practice that investigates the possibilities of what painting can do. His work is held in the collection of numerous public institutions throughout Australia and worldwide, and has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions nationally since the mid 1980s.

Stieg Persson: Polyphonic
The Ian Potter Museum of Art – The University of Melbourne, Swanston Street, Parkville
Exhibition: 27 March – 1 July 2018
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Stieg Persson, Middle Management 2003. oil on cotton duck. Winner 2003 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize. Acquired with equal assistance from the RHS Abbott Bequest Fund, 2003. Collection of the Bendigo Art Gallery 2003.21. Courtesy of Stieg Persson and Bendigo Art Gallery