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Title: Drawing worlds : reflections on space, place and placelessness
Author: Pafilis, Vassilis
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 383X
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2010
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In the summer of 2001, intending to perfect my technique and further myself as an artist, I traveled to England and enrolled to study for an MA degree in Fine Art at the University of East London (UEL). This was a productive time with new ideas regarding landscape and seascape motifs. With the intention of exploring further these ideas, I successfully submitted a proposal to join the Professional Doctorate programme at UEL (2003). This report outlines the cultural and artistic tensions that have fuelled my work and accounts of the six years of part-time study mainly occupied with theoretical research, studio practice and professional practice. (i) Theoretical Research I carried out an extensive literature survey in an attempt to identify artists and theories relevant to my ideas about the materiality of paint and its limits. Initially, I focused on the expressive power of drawing as a prime vehicle of meaning and expression. I studied the theoretical approach of Charles Peirce, because I believe the semiotics in philosophy and art intersect. I discovered the studies by Lucy Lippard and Melanie Smith and their theories on art and culture. Other, important influences were Edward Relph and his theory of place and placelessness, and John Urry in relation to the theory of tourism. I also studied and tried to establish a "dialogue" with contemporary artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Antoni Tapies, and Basil Beattie. Each of them has influenced my work in different ways. I explored the act of image-making from within the Greek aesthetic heritage and spiritual context in relation to postmodern influences. In addition, the research around the themes of tourism, natural environment, indexical abstraction and place (and placelessness) has enriched my "vocabulary" and has added new dimensions to my work. (ii) Studio Practice The space and resources provided by the UEL enabled me to realize my creative potential by experimenting with different forms and techniques, and receiving constructive feedback. This is reflected on the composition of larger and bolder drawings and canvases around a more consistent theme. The opportunity to debate with other artists about the subject matter and the artist's role in society (as social activist and educator) has also enhanced my ability to view critically my creative practice. My work gradually evolved from mark-making to figurative suggestion, from the abstract form to the depth of matter. A recurrent theme in my work is the sea and coastline, deploying deep spatial illusionism and a range of painterly techniques. The content of these paintings is the interaction of man-made forms such as parasols -a remnant of human activity - with the seascapes and the primordial, elemental natural environment. Parasols alone, despite the absence of human figures, evoke a human presence. They represent the transience of man-made forms and are an example of man's relationship with fragile nature. (iii) Professional practice. During my studies at UEL, I had the opportunity to visit a number of important art exhibitions in London and elsewhere, which have contributed to my development as an artist and inspired my work. In particular, the Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist's Eye at the Hayward Gallery (2005), and Impressionists by the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts (2007) have greatly inspired my recent work. In this period, I participated in several group exhibitions, and one solo show, in London and Greece, culminating in my participation in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2009) with the painting Coastlines which was sold to a private collection. In 2009, 1 also contributed with an article on the role of the artist in a postmodern society to the art supplement of a Greek daily newspaper. Being exposed to the multi-ethnic environment of London has enhanced my understanding of image-making in relation to different expressions of cultural heritage and identity. I believe this rich cultural, artistic and professional experience will serve as a platform to further advance my career as an artist. Finally, the title of this Report was partly inspired by T. J. Barnes and J. S. Duncan's book: Writing Worlds, Discourse, Text & Metaphor in the Representation of Landscape, and Melanie Smith's chapter: Space, Place, and Placelessness in the Culturally Regenerated City, within Cultural Tourism: Global and Local Perspectives edited by G. Richards, which voiced concern about the degrading effect of mass tourism on the landscape.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available