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Reinventing Rapport: An Investigation of the Mother- Daughter Dyad within Contemporary Figure Painting.


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Pridmore, M (2008) Reinventing Rapport: An Investigation of the Mother- Daughter Dyad within Contemporary Figure Painting. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania,.

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This project is a visual exploration of a subjective experience of female
sensuality within the context of contemporary debates about maternity,
the female body, beauty and pleasure in western art. It specifically
examines these ideas within the mother-daughter relationship (largely
absent in western art) in a domestic setting. The conceptual foundations
of the project have been developed through engagement with feminist
theorists (Julia Kristeva and Luce Iragaray), feminist revision of art
history (Linda Nochlin and Griselda Pollock) and personal experience,
running parallel with a disciplined studio practice.
Employing a sequential narrative, the paintings aim to create a
contemporary body of work celebrating the mother-daughter dyad
situated within discourses about feminine jouissance and play. The
research is informed by art practices from the Renaissance (Giovanni
Bellini), from the seventeenth century (Jan Vermeer), from early
Modernism (Gustave Courbet, Mary Cassatt, Edouard Vuillard,
Suzanne Valadon), and contemporary artists (Emily Kame
Kngwarreye and Gerhardt Richter). It seeks to discover possible new
ways of representing the female body, specifically the maternal body in
relation to the developing girl-child, so as to express a personal and
positive idea of pleasure in the female body and its decoration using the
tropes of the feminine.
The powerhouse of the project was a search to find a balance between feminism and a diverse and rich maternal heritage. In painting the
female figure, the project attempts to create transgressive works which
simultaneously honour feminism’s core value, the empowering of
women, but resist high Modernism’s masculine, minimalist, hard-edged
exclusion of pattern and a ‘decorative’ feminine aesthetic. Within the
economy of my paintings the maternal body disappears, to become
represented symbolically by colour and pattern, celebrating the significance of textural elements - clothing, furnishing fabrics,
bedspreads, carpets, wall papers; objects and styles of decoration
chosen by the women who created the homes of my childhood and
The project seeks to create images of the sensuality of the female body
from both a feminine and feminist perspective, acknowledging female
pleasure in looking at the female body, distinct from a voyeuristic male
desire concerned with conquest or domination. The thesis exhibition is
comprised of four series, which follow the daughter’s development
from the post-infant stage (where the separation of mother and child
has recently begun) through to the pre-pubescent stage. Initiated into
the rituals of femininity, the daughter gains cache in the world and the
promise of sensual pleasure, beyond puberty. The independent gaze of
the mother, and her absence in the final series, is an important signal of
her psychological independence. In the case of the child, states of
absorption or quiet activity, indicate ‘flow’ without passivity. Both
figures are contained within their own interior worlds. If the works
create an undercurrent of discomfort in the viewer, an unease at their
proximity to this particular quasi-erotic intimacy, this is to be desired.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2009 00:52
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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