Representation and indeterminacy : a study of night in painting
This thesis presents the findings of a practice-based research project in fine
art, supported by a study of specific art historical and philosophical
discourses. Up until now, night landscape painting has not been properly
considered as a genre in its own right. This thesis argues for its recognition as
such through a critical examination of images of night landscape in the
practice of key Western landscape painters from the 17th to the 21st century.
It considers the extent to which efforts of contemporary artists to record and
represent 'night' are consciously or unconsciously acted upon by our
trajectory knowledge of past representational culture - tracing the 'nocturne'
through Romanticism and Naturalism to abstraction, and via the overarching
ideologies and expectation of 'landscape'. Importantly, my research highlights
a continuity of artistic feeling and intention. My own art practice as a
landscape painter forms an essential part of this investigation. A visual study
of night in actuality, supported through the theoretical perspective of
phenomenology, has been carried out: Through a series of night walks,
drawings and paintings, night is interrogated as 'subject' as opposed to
'context', and as an indeterminate and 'ambiguous' space.