Proposal 3 — FINAL DRAFT

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

Working Title

Hybridity, Mimicry, Third space — What results if we take concepts from contemporary post-colonial theory (viz. “hybridity”, “mimicry”, and “third space”, as espoused by Homi K Bhabha), and instead of applying these to community structures and dynamics (i.e. cultural interactions in a society) they are applied to a visual world (i.e. figure/ground interactions in a pictorial space).

Aims and Objective


Abstract art was initially influenced by Theosophy, resulting in the “diagrams” of Hilma af Klint 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 create abstract (non-objective) artworks based on applying concepts from contemporary post-colonial theory (viz. “hybridity”, “mimicry”, and “third space”, as espoused by Homi K Bhabha), but applying these to a visual world instead of to that of community structures and dynamics.


  • 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 Klint, 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
  • Josef Albers — colour theory


Two contemporary practitioners of interest:

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


There are three theoretical areas under consideration:

  • Contemporary post-colonial theory

    There are three well-recognized terms from within contemporary post-colonial studies (as espoused by Homi K Bhabha): “hybridisation” which describes the emergence of new cultural forms from multiculturalism; “mimicry” which happens is when one culture imitates and takes on the culture of another; and the “third space” being an ambiguous area that develops when two or more individuals/cultures interact.

  • Gestalt Theory

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

  • Colour Theory

    The perception of colour, especially “vibrating boundaries” as espoused by Josef Albers.


A practice-based methodology will be used and artworks created that explore hybridity between the figure and ground with respect to colors: simple (color fields) vs complex (textures); forms: lines vs curves

Mimicry will be explored through the use of materials: synthetic vs man made.

Example studies will be created as small artworks. Qualitative evaluation will be undertaken and works considered for Interim Show and the Final Show. It is envisioned that while some studies may be used directly, larger artworks will be based on the smaller studies.

The outcomes will be shown on my MA blog, at the Interim Show (in 2016), and at the Final Show (in 2017).


To produce a coherent body of abstract visual work that is underpinned from a synthesis of concepts taken from contemporary post-colonial studies, gestalt theory, and colour theory.

Work Plan

The concept is to engage a series of three design cycles over the available 6 blocks: blocks 1 to 3 represent the first divergent and convergent design cycle; block 4 to 5 will be another and interim design cycle; block 6 will be the final design and execution cycle.

Block 1 (Sep 2015) and Block 2 (Jan 2016): research the area and produce, in a divergent manner, experimental pieces.

Block 3 (May 2016): Convergence and a first set of results shown at the Interim Show (at the MA Summer Show, 2016).

Block 4 (Sep 2016): Another, but more focused cycle of divergent research and experimentation.

Block 5 (Jan 2017): Convergence, curation, planning, and creating artworks for the Final Show.

Block 6 (May 2017): Finalizing artworks and preparation of associated material (ephemera, website, etc.) for exhibiting at the Final Show (at the MA Summer Show, 2017).


See research paper bibliography.

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