Test Results
Book and Exhibition


Overview of Book

This book is a map of a 12 month anti-viral Hep C treatment program the author undertook in 2014. Rather than keep a traditional written diary or a video report, I chose to do a series of large scale time-based paintings. In conjunction with these paintings, I gathered together various fragments of notes spanning personal reflections on my fluxing being (shifting images of body, psychological and mental states) during the highs and lows of the treatment.

Weaving throughout the text are a series of critical thoughts on painting and the artist as viral agents within culture. The other thread winding through the book concerns the rapidly changing nature of virality across various social and cultural manifestations – particularly in the medical and post-digital fields and contexts the artist (patient) finds his or herself embedded in.

Finally, I included some notes on the painting mark-making process – using simple vertical strokes to mark time and build up sensorial patterns of colour and texture. These fundamental abstract marks provoke connotational readings from knotted tapestries, and cave wall signs to post-digital medical DNA printouts.

Each painting can also be read as a pathological slide image – a laboratory test result. The book will be of interest to both readers involved in art theory and practice as well as patients and staff involved in medical antiviral treatment programs.


Book 105pp • includes 6 original linocut prints bound into the text. Each of the 50 limited edition hard copies is signed, numbered and dated by the artist/author.


• Patient Record - Confidential
• Prescription Only Art - Refigerate After Opening
• Doing Time, Doing Art
• Painting For A Time Future Now
• I Am Now A Virus
• Magic Squares: Tiles Of Time
• Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)
• Art Must Be Perverse - Invert the Codes
• Incision Maps on Canvas Skin
• Knotting Paint

Preface by George Alexander

“Had we less to say to those we love, perhaps we should say it oftener, but the attempt comes, then the inundation, then it is all over.” Emily Dickinson

As symbol-using animals we are entirely subject to the forces that control nature - like catching a cold – and as such are very much part of the show. Our specialness, is also that we are apart from the show – through those very same symbol-using capacities. This apartness drives us to produce “science” to name the scene from which we arose, and even to give that scene the flavours and colours of our own character so that things can become, for us, signs. And that is close to what art does. Art and science.

Over the course of a long and productive career Kurt Brereton has played at using and misusing signs, symbols and marks – whether words or images. He plays fast and loose with disciplinary boundaries: among them aesthetics, anthropology, fiction, biology, philosophy, linguistics and politics - engaging with each in order to help cross-weave them all. Or to offer what Kenneth Burke called “perspective by incongruity” i.e., seeing the backsides and the insides of things while looking at the surfaces and the outsides. A sort of complicated comedy, really. Or might that be a joyful tragedy?

And Kurt Brereton always seems to have one comic turn left. Or one more battle. Lately a return to painting – from both compulsion and choice - provides him with a repository of possibilities for thinking about and expressing certain ideas about life and death, fear and pleasure. Prismatic paintings, by the way, that suggest looms and yarns. There’s weaving in his blood – his mother Janet, was a great tapestry weaver - with its half-hitch knotting technique of one-over-the-other: as multiple and complex as a dream. And to extend the weaving metaphor - there’s a hint too that one “weaves” a spell, or “unweaves” one, (to break, not to cast a spell).

These “chronometric” paintings, in their sheer formality, offer observations about time and waiting, about the body and test results, as well as about creativity itself. Creativity, whose paradoxical twists and turns, reveals a homeopathic side: we need a little poison to effect a cure. We often have two explanations for our illnesses, one verbal (and based on medical knowledge) and the other nonverbal, (maybe preconscious, even superstitious.) Painting, in its reverence for process, thus becomes for Kurt Brereton, a coping strategy and a sign of resilience. (As it was for Paul Klee, who suffered from Scleroderma: “Never have I drawn so much, nor so intensely … I create in order not to cry.”)

“How much can come / and much can go, / and yet abide the World!” wrote Emily Dickinson. She loved flowers. And here she’s speaking about her fascination for their evanescence, as much as their efflorescence: and yet “the world does abide”. She is celebrating process, the dying out, and the reappearance of experience.

Likewise Kurt. Long may you bloom.

Currarong, NSW, Australia, 2014




The Treatment on view at Nowra City Gallery in group show Object Lessons, 2014

Shoalhaven Regional Art Centre, Nowra, March - April 2014

Test Results – End of Treatment, oil on 19 canvas sections, 130cm x 360cm, 2014

Day By Day (in a similar vein),137cm x 304cm diptych, oil on canvas, 2014

The Treatment,137cm x 304cm diptych, oil on canvas, 2014

Test Results,152cm x 183cm, oil on canvas, 2014

Transfusion,120cm x 170cm, oil on canvas, 2013