The being of painting

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- In this studio led PhD thesis, painting practice is considered from three different perspectives, ethnology, art theory and ontology. From the first point of view, painting is of no particular significance, it is one of any number of activities that takes place in a culture. The goal is to observe systematic behaviour, tell the story of how it happened and what was produced, then interpret that data to determine which kind of practice it is. With no presumptions this could have been the work of a tinker, tailor, soldier, baker, or artist. Once identified as a hybrid form of painting, another level of theorising is explored to reveal its significance. In art theory terms, painting is understood as a professional practice that produces objects of interest for humanities disciplines. Overtime painting has demonstrated a tendency to challenge both its object and image status. This tendency appeared in my own practice as a drive to create hybrid works between painting, objects, screen media and text. I characterised the nature of this work as a multi-modal form cohering around the appearance of colour. The significance of a new kind of expanded painting is established in art theoretical terms but the important question of the essence of painting remained unanswered. Once again another level of theory was required. Ontologically painting is understood as the object of aesthetic discourse that in turn reflects historical states of being. A new kind of painting, expanded painting, requires a new kind of saying, a post aesthetic discourse, that is attuned to an uncanny tension between presence and absence. Painting is articulated as a form of revelation that challenges instrumental understandings of being, that alludes to other possibilities and other ways of being. By using Heidegger’s concept of earth as introduced in his essay The Origin of the Work of Art (1935), it is argued that art becomes the condition for things appearing as things, rather than units in a global regime of instrumental rationalisation. Overall, a question arising out of an ethnography of art generates a response in the form of a post aesthetics of expanded painting.
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