Proposal 1

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Working Title

What results if we take concepts from contemporary post-colonial studies (viz. “hybridization”, “mimicry”, and the “third space”) and apply these to the world of abstract art inhabited by two cultures: the figure and the ground?


Lines. Curves. Color fields. Textures. Hybridity.

Aims and Objective


Abstract art was initially influenced by Theosophy, resulting in the “diagrams” of Hilma af Klimt that were intended to represent its spiritual ideas. Other early protagonists such as Kadinsky used color, shape, and lines to affect the soul of the spectator; Sonia Delaunay experimented with adjacent colors and design to develop orphism; and Władysław Strzemiński produce textured fields in his unistic compositions; etc.

If abstract art was influenced by contemporary post-colonial studies, what would be produced?


  • To produce work underpinned by the concept of hybridity
  • To produce work that is itself a hybrid


  • To investigate the influences on abstract artists and the art that resulted (e.g. Sonia Delaunay and orphism, Władysław Strzemiński and unism).
  • To explore different media for the figure and the ground, e.g. natural vs synthetic, polychromatic vs monochromatic, etc.
  • To explore digital methods of production (e.g. automata)
  • To investigate mixing analog and digital methods of production (e.g. bringing analog materials into the digital world and vice versa)
  • To explore the relationship between the figure and the ground
  • To explore the relationship between the pictorial space and the spectator



Over time, abstract art and its practitioners have been influenced by different things and pursued different areas of interest:

  • Hilma af Klimt, Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky – Theosophy
  • Piet Mondriaan – De Stijl / neoplasticism
  • Sonia Delaunay – Orphism
  • Kazimir Malevich – Suprematism
  • Theo Van Doesburg – De Stijl / composition
  • Sophie Taeuber-Arp – color and form
  • Władysław Strzemiński – unistic compositions


Two contemporary practitioners of interest:

  • Bridget Riley – geometric forms and color theory
  • Brent Wadden – yarn as a media


Hybridity is well-recognized term within contemporary post-colonial studies. As espoused by Homi K Bhabha “hybridisation” describes the emergence of new cultural forms from multiculturalism; “mimicry” is when one culture imitates and takes on the culture of another; and the “third space” is an ambiguous area that develops when two or more individuals/cultures interact.

Gestalt theory and the division of the pictorial space into the figure and ground and how these are perceived.


A practice-based methodology will be used with pieces will be made to explore hybridity between the figure and ground with respect to:

  • Materials: synthetic vs man made
  • Colors: simple (color fields) vs complex (textures).
  • Forms: lines vs curves

Example proofs will be built. Qualitative evaluation will be undertaken and works considered for interim and final shows. It is envisioned that while some proofs may be used directly, larger pieces will be based on proofs.

The outcomes will be shown on my MA blog.


To produce a body of abstract visual work.

Work Plan

The plan is to use the time in blocks 1 and 2 to research the area and produce, in a divergent manner, experimental pieces. Block 3 and 4 will be more convergent in manner, and Blocks 5 and 6 will be refinements of final pieces. More detailed planning will be undertaken between blocks 1 and 2.


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