WTF Renaissance

Nerida Dickinson

Combining classic artworks with contemporary humour and snark.
WTF Renaissance

Fringe World is known for its outrageous, spectacular and sometimes awful performances, as well as the unease of regular audience participation. Hiding in the often overlooked visual arts program, WTF Renaissance is a cheerful gem combining high art and lowbrow humour in a cheeky and accessible manner.

The clever concept is presented in a deceptively simple, yet highly accessible exhibition. Defying preconceptions of darkly hued, serious oil works displayed in heavy scrolled gilt frames, these classic tableaux, portraits and religious pieces take on a new life in Angela Thompson’s Fringe World production. Using polaroid photo style plain mounting, the names of the pieces and their artists are provided in stark informative style. Using the thicker white space below each image, a modern caption response is delivered in deadpan, insta-worthy style. Mockery of classic depiction of the human form, in-jokes on the development of perspective, tongue-in-cheek responses to over-earnest religious iconography, first world problems and workplace jokes on the fashion-forward ruff-wearing set all find a place in this diverse collection.


Fringe works demand a modicum of audience participation, regardless of genre. Thompson caters for this by providing convenient tables stocked with colour pencils and loose pages of paper featuring colouring-in pictures of Renaissance works and room for creative caption contributions. With completed responses displayed on low tech pin boards, the beautiful colouring neatly within the lines reflects the recent fashion for adult colouring-in and mindfulness activities. However, it is a pity that most participants are so careful with their pencil work and forego the opportunity to take inspiration from the exhibition to display personal panache with witty rejoinders or snappy ripostes to the images.

Bringing laughter with her fresh take on classic paintings, Thompson’s exhibition entices, intrigues and distracts visitors while waiting for performances at nearby venues. Potentially introducing the Western art tradition to a generation with abbreviated attention spans of smart phone addiction and viral meme responses, there is much to like about this visual arts display. A fun contribution to the Fringe World program, WTF Renaissance may inspire patrons to take a light-hearted perspective with them through any future gallery visits.

3 ½ stars

WTF Renaissance
Presented by Lucky Cat
Writer and creator: Angela Thompson
Perth Town Hall, Perth
27 January – 25 February 2018
Part of Fringe World 2018

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.