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An alternative portrait : beyond the physical form


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Quinn, S ORCID: 0000-0002-0018-8686 2011 , 'An alternative portrait : beyond the physical form', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The concept of An Alternative Portrait was derived from a long-standing fascination with the human body's interior configurations and the potential of these to evoke the essence of individuality and bodily presence (or portrait). My objective is to capture ideas of self and embodiment through experiential and emotive marks and transitions expressed within broad fields of colour. My investigation references both loosely arranged and tightly constructed abstracted patterning evident in formally structured art and the apparent human need for visual order that pattern provides.
A survey of artists who look beyond literal representations of the human form and natural processes commenced with the work of Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. Klee observed pattern and cyclical rhythms in nature supplemented with linear motion and vertical extension, while Kandinsky used the human form as a starting point to demonstrate pure abstraction. Ideas expressing individual spirituality can be found in the work of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko.
The capacity of representations of invisible natural processes to extend our understanding of human minutiae is evident in the work of Christine Borland who documents decay, and Susan Derges who captures natural cycles in photograms. Other artists who use forms of pattern to express abstracted natural processes include Anne Morrison and Catherine Woo. Both engage the natural world in observations of underlying processes, structures, and natural rhythms and exhibit qualities that I attach to the human body. Chuck Close employs a complex form of patterning in a systematic approach that is abstract yet superreal. A strong attachment to process is referenced in Steffen Dam's exquisitely structured organic forms suspended in glass and in the materiality of Dale Frank's abstract portraits. The media I chose to express An Alternative Portrait delivers luminous qualities evident in the atmospherics of Janet Laurence's installation aesthetic and Antonio Murado's colour-fields.
Significant sources of ideas about pattern are E H Gombrich and Kent Bloomer. The indexical natures of perception and awareness as these relate to phenomenological ideas of body, self, embodiment, to communicating subjective experience, and to a contemporary concept of the sublime are examined with reference to Emmanuel Kant, Barnett Newman, Billy Collins, Mark Johnson, Francois Pluchart, David Peat, Drew Leder, Tracey Warr, and Maurice Merlot-Ponty.
An Alternative Portrait invites new readings of the body as a site of physical and imagined presence. I leave an audience to its own associations giving primacy to a subjective interpretation.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Quinn, S
Keywords: Human beings in art
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Copyright 2011 the author

Additional Information:

Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Engaging the imagination -- Ch. 2. A metaphysical response -- Ch. 3. Beyond real -- Conclusion

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