Teo Treloar, The Black Captain #4, 2018, Graphite on Fabriano Artistico, 640 gsm hot pressed paper, 50cm x 56cm.
Attempts to untangle the meaning of the peculiar polyhedron in Albrecht Dürer’s 1514 engraving Melencolia I have been numerous over the centuries. Looking like a hewn marble boulder and placed beside angels with downcast eyes, this quizzical form is reborn half a millennium later in works by Wollongong-based artist, Teo Treloar. In the next iteration of The Black Captain – a series which commenced in 2017 at a time the artist grappled with acute depression – the polyhedron is rendered in tonal variations of graphite and appears frequently alongside the noir-like figure of the white, middleclass everyman. In white collared shirt, Brylcreem hair and a rumpled brow, the male forms repeat in the series like a generic figure in a science journal – an addendum to text. The Black Captain, says Treloar, “serves as a reference point for the role of the protagonist in existential literature and art” – namely, the works of Kafka and Dostoyevsky – two authors who towered over my twenties ¬with their anguished anti-heroes.
The same coded nature that makes Melencolia I ripple with a sort of mathematical or a visual riddle suffuses the work of Treloar. Each work is created in relation to a proceeding work, a story that compels me to look on with each calculated mark of the pencil.