Delaney, C 2008, ' A farewell to meat : rendering ambivalence & transgression', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright C Delaney 2008
This exegesis speaks to the body of work constructed over three years between February 2004 and April 2007, assembled and exhibited at the Lismore Regional Gallery in May 2007 under the title A Farewell To Meat: Rendering Ambivalence and Transgression. Written concurrently with the production of the paintings, this writing maps the literature surveyed and documents the studio research undertaken. This research consisted of collecting imagery from a wide range of sites and allowing it to trigger abductive pictorial responses. Erupting from this collecting process, social texts such as TV and radio news, cultural texts such as cinema and literature, and the subtext formed by my own dreams and nightmares were conflated to become a kind of mythology that informs the paintings and artist books in the exhibition. My studio research on one level, became a kind of phenomenological investigation that probed and responded to a media saturated consumer culture, whilst on another level, it seeks to facilitate the injection of an element of cognitive dissonance back into this culture. The resultant creative output utilises the efficacy of the image and the subversive power of metaphor to engage with several interconnected themes. These range from the dialectic of truth and illusion in the painted space, to power relations, marginalisation and the possibility of finding holes in that maze without exits we call ‘capitalism’. An ostensibly atavistic utilisation of figuration and oil paint is intended as a lucid rebuttal of 20th Century/modernist notions of minimalism and the so-called ‘end of painting’. The relationship within the paintings between the medium and the message (the paint and the illusion) seeks to operate like the drapery found in paintings from the Baroque era that antinomically both reveals and conceals the forms beneath it. This scopic contradiction serves as an anamorphosistic mirror which, in my own work, highlights the subterfuge and legerdemain currently operating behind the veil constituted by technology and contemporary mass culture. The goofy, cartoon-like nature of the paintings and the aleatory strategies deployed in their construction, bear witness to the profundity of play in contrast to the burdensome yoke of labour. The artist books articulate more fully the innovative nature of the research and complement the paintings in a way that adds the dynamic of a digital dimension to the more traditional methods of oil painting on canvas. As a crassly instrumental reason insists on tightening its grip on human affairs, everywhere emphasising efficiency over playfulness, and as coercive structures of order continue to reduce my ontic options to an ever-diminishing range of superlatively insipid and uninteresting purchasing ‘choices’, the capacity for play, for ridiculousness, for absurdity, noise and laziness, for me, became symbolically central.