Angela Brennan: Forms of Life
⬤ Ian Potter Museum of Art 5 Sep 2017 - 25 Feb 2018
In Angela Brennan’s exhibition at the Potter, a wall painting of textual fragments poses the question: “What do you want a poet for? To save the city of course!” Brennan’s engagement with the artefacts of early Greek and Cypriot civilization has been framed as an investigation into how such signs, symbols and forms persist through the ages, contributing, as director Kelly Gelatly’s catalogue essay has it, to “thinking and making in contemporary art”. Brennan has crafted responses to the University of Melbourne’s Classics and Archaeology Collection, and the conventions and mannerisms of ancient pottery and vase painting are here rematerialized with exuberant and poppy splashes of colour, thick brushstrokes and simplified cross hatching, and polka dot and stripe patterns. The premise of the exhibition – to investigate how such forms resist periodisation and inform contemporary sensibilities – seems rather like a foregone conclusion. To me it seems the question is not whether motif and symbol from antiquity inform contemporary aesthetics, but what does it mean that they do?