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Title: The corroded surface : portrait of the sublime
Author: Threapleton, James E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 8828
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2016
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Derived from the Latin corrodere, meaning to ‘gnaw to pieces’, corrosion as a transformative physical process is nature at its most sublime, engendering fear and power, producing the obscure and reducing form to the darkness ‘beneath all beauty as promise of its ultimate annihilation’ (Beckley, 2001: p. 72). The thesis considers corrosion as subtraction, erasure and negation in relation to the painting process. Through experimentation with the ruination of both content and painting’s plastic, material properties the thesis reflects upon how the disruption or destruction of image and surface might relate to the un- representable. Within the history of twentieth century art negation has been cited as the defining spirit of the Modernism (TJ Clark: 1986). Jean François Lyotard suggests that it is the sublime that has provoked this destructive, nihilistic tendency and given Modern and postmodern art its ‘impetus and axioms’ (Lyotard: 1979). As the 2010 Tate research project, The Sublime Object attests, the sublime is once again ‘now’. Painting was conspicuous in its absence from the project, perhaps because as Simon Morley states ‘most sublime artworks these days tend to be installations. It is certainly getting harder for painting, the traditional vessel for evoking visual sublimity, to elicit such effects’ (2010, p. 74). This thesis will examine Morley’s position by considering how the composition of the un-presentable may be alluded to through de-composition and corrosion in painting. An expressionist enquiry into the tension between figure and ground the thesis investigates a relationship between mark, surface and the sublime.(1) Notoriously difficult to capture, the sublime is intrinsically contradictory, making an effective, overarching theory on the subject all but impossible to sustain (Forsey: 2007). Highlighting some of the problems surrounding the theory of the sublime James Elkins, in his essay ‘Against the Sublime’ (2009), suggests that the term has been mistaken for a trans-historical category and that it has been used and abused to smuggle religious content into contemporary critical writing. Further more, he describes the post-Kantian postmodern sublime as so intricate and linguistically complex as to render it effectively redundant without substantial qualification. Elkins has called for a moratorium on the term sublime and a redress of language in favor of new, direct terms (2009). This project asks if painting can facilitate this redress and provide these terms. Note (1): An enquiry that applies a necessarily heuristic approach to a project engaged with subjective, felt experience in painting characterized by and articulated through the primacy of gestural abstraction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Fine Art ; Painting