Exploring Theory and Practice MA Contemporary Art Practice

Beginnings, Endings and Continuations

My practice underpins my research. During this MA I am making a concurrent blog to support this. The creation of my art comes first with all research stemming from this and in turn feeding into it. I seek to identify and explore the position I hold within a contemporary and historical context through research and the creative process. This work will culminate in a symposium with seven other fine artists, showcasing work developed in the studio accompanied by a zine. The final submission will include this work together with a blog and contextual statement.


acrylic on 4 canvases
120 cm by 160cm

It is impossible to end something abruptly as the work is continuously developing. The above work was created over the cusp of the semesters following a thread of interconnectedness and mysticism. It developed from a small study that was photoshopped onto a billboard in Rome and Tokyo. It could be described as an abstract mystical piece: it could be also be experienced in its own right without labelling, which is how I presented it for the studio crit.

Interestingly some of the comments were:

Straight away I want to figure out what it is! Makes me think of space/ the universe/ stars/ sun. Feels warm and welcoming on first look, but upon reflection makes me wonder if that is really the case.


Love the use of colour, composition and technques, a real sense of lght , subtlety


They make me feel like I’m ascending upwards


Imagery provokes heaven/ rebirth/ space-like and ethereal qualities


This work or a series of paintings have a strong spiritual effect on the viewer. Uplifting light , birth or rebirth.

Anon. 12/11/19

The viewers seemed to perceive the meaning which was not objectively apparent as no literature, title or ostensible ‘clue’ accompanied the pieces. This I found fascinating and wanted to explore the space between the painting object or image, the meaning , the viewer and the artist. Do we attribute meaning? If so why are we concurring or attributing similar meaning to a work that is for all appearances abstract?

I began to explore the work of artists working in a similar field, that I felt would develop my understanding of imagery, visual language, artistic expression and concept; some of whom were suggested by my tutors.

Hilma af Klint

(1862 -1944)

The Swedish artist who painted a series of spiritually inspired abstracts.

Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen

The exhibitions “Painting the Unseen ‘ at the Serpentine, London in 2016 and in 2018-19 “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future’ at the Guggenheim, New York showcased her work that had been unseen until 1986. Through mediumship with a group of five af Klint believed she had a spiritual commision to create esoteric works for the future. Her large abstracts seem to contain spiritual geometry and symbolism with the spiral being a central meaningful motif, indeed her vision was to exhibit her work in a spiral temple representing spiritual ascension. This in part was achieved in the Guggenheim. Her abstract work began in 1906 and predates others such as Mondrian and Kandinsky working in this field.

Elements that resonated with me were: the scale and symbolism ; the idea of visual ascension and access to an artistically ephemeral realm; the long gestation of the artwork and prerequisite that it would not be shown until at least twenty years after her death which I felt added to the mythology of it. She created her own timescale and symbolism, now being viewed in future ( contemporary) light. I, and it seems the viewers, perceived some of these elements in my own abstract work

Gerasimos Floratos

Whilst reading an article about Hilma af Klint in Art Review I encountered a contemporary New York artist Gerasimos Floratos also using his own idiosyncratic symbolism such as: logos , trainers, cigarettes, rabbits and the globe. Floratos spoke of his process and environment:

GF I don’t meditate much but sometimes when I have pain, I’ll close my eyes and picture my body as an empty shell and there will be this intense colour in the places that are causing me stress or pain. And I’ll just picture that flowing out of my fingertips or my head, and it helps. I’ll visualise all the tendons and ligaments, and I’ll remember that while I’m painting. Sometimes I’m trying to describe that in the paintings.

Using meditation as a source of visualisation is a creative process that I use and return to, however I would extend this to include dreams as a visual resource and bank for metaphor. The idea of being solitary within the customised environment to create the work is another important facet partly so I can follow ideas to their visual conclusion without getting distracted and losing the golden thread ( though I appreciate that being hijacked can be a valuable part of the process) and partly to create “personal magic” as Floratos here states:

GF I don’t want people to know my shit. I want to be alone in there. My studio environment feeds my impulses. I want to be able to have a vision and get it on canvas as soon as possible. For me that means not having things in perfect places: blues in this corner, reds in that corner. I don’t want any obstructions. My studio is like my bedroom. If you make your space and touch all those items, I feel I might be making a place where I can get some personal magic.

Similarly to af Klint, Floratos discusses the time involved and the connection with the work, putting everything into it. Creating his own visual language which is one of the aspects I am developing now.

GF Part of the confidence comes out of the fact that I did everything I could to make this thing mine. Whether that’s sitting in front of it for two days, two months… It’s my connection to the work

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