Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy


Visual Arts


Glabush, Sky

2nd Supervisor

Migone, Christof


3rd Supervisor

Sprengler, Christine



Contemporary painting as a form of research-making and knowledge acquisition through applied practice calls for a re-evaluation of the relationship between painter and painting. This dissertation examines the complexity of this relationship by displacing authority over the artwork and its meaning from the artist. From this poststructuralist starting point the thesis expands upon Derridean ideas of deconstruction by folding them back into Martin Heidegger’s concepts of earth and world. The aim is to reintroduce the physical materiality of paint back into the relationship between painter and painting, prompting a reassessment of the importance of a wider ecological context. Through an Object-Oriented Ontology Heidegger’s concept of Dasein is expanded upon as the thesis moves from a human centered position, whereby meaning is derived from our human relationship to art, to a nonhuman, decentered, ecological position that maintains that objects exist independently from human perception. The work of Anselm Kiefer is used to document a movement away from human history and linear timescales towards ideas surrounding nonhuman timescales which include geological, material-object, and ecological formulations. Lastly, the thesis addresses how these theoretical examinations might be reflected in how a painter physically interacts with a painting in a studio. Autopoietic improvisation offers a way to address contemporary approaches to painting in a studio environment which brings together a decentered human position with other modes of interagency. This research seeks to question the hierarchies associated with anthropocentrism and to shed light on the intra-agentic forces at play within a contemporary painting practice.

Summary for Lay Audience

The relationship between a painter and their painting is an often-discussed topic. Evidence of this can be found throughout art history and in the texts which accompany paintings in museums and galleries across the world. The focus of this research is to side-step this relationship and ask what other aspects of a creative process affect the way in which a painting is made. The study questions the extent to which a painter can truly dictate a viewer’s interpretation through their canvas. It explores whether the artist’s intentions are just one among a larger set of influences that collectively impact the outcome of a painting. This research asks how an ecological disposition might affect the creative act and destabilize the painter/painting relationship.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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