Figure and ground - the interior reservoir

  • Brett Ian Moore

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    The art objects on exhibition may be read as internal landscapes or interior reservoirs. The exhibition is a site and each art work is a site, an allegorical site of the activity of reading and the potentiality of multiple readings. As reservoirs of memory the art objects reflect on the human condition. With an allegorical reading of the art object, the painted image becomes a reservoir for thoughts, past, present and future.

    My art work has a restorative base; it stems from the reinvestment of desire in historical forms of art. The formulation of 'figure - ground' imagery and the development of this imagery in paint is centred on sensate experience with the medium of paint and a desire to define the dialectical relations of past and present, nature and culture. My desire to conserve the historical shell of painting is realised in the figural quotation and the changes made to that quotation. The figural image which contains references to the Baroque is transposed in an approach to paint that emphasises expressive immediacy.

    Figure - ground imagery stems from my interest in the relation of nature to culture and culture to nature. These paintings and drawings realise that the notion of the 'natural' can be approached only through its 'cultural' representation. The works of man about man (figural quotation) are re-absorbed into the landscape (ground). The act of looking is an act of deciphering what is being dissolved and what is complete. The figures thus stand for history as an irreversible process of dissolution and decay.

    The modernist approach to paint that is deployed in the translation process contribute to ambiguity, uncertainty and the distance of allegorical correspondences - the undecided nature of allegory. My work is involved with the representation of the historical drama of the imaginary coupled with the symbolic reinvestment in the shell of allegorical desire. I am reinvesting in a specific rhetoric of the imaginary that has been brought about by a desire to remove painting from the self referential, to go beyond the closure of the symbolic to the imaginary and to assert the figure - ground polemic as part of the order of the imaginary.

    My painting stems from an interest in the production of allegorical images which attempt to allegorise the activity of looking and reading (the relation of art to art criticism). Through my paintings I am not challenging the symbolic nor am I attempting to undo representation nor 'rupture the sign' in a classically deconstructive sense. My interest in allegory stems from my concern for the development of an art work that somehow resolves the contradistinction between theatricality and absorption. In no way am I suggesting that such a resolution is manifest in my work. As a painter I am interested in the relation of art to art criticism and the way my art work is received by an audience. Therefore, I am required to have a detailed understanding of the relation of art and objecthood and the relationship between the art object and the beholder. As a result my paintings are embedded in the concept of theatricality, raising questions to do with spatial readings in a range of areas such as the illusionistic, psychological, physical, fictive and ontological.
    Date of Award1997
    Original languageEnglish

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