• Authenticity: Painting ontologies & the threatening image

Kontis, Georgios, 2020, Thesis, Authenticity: Painting ontologies & the threatening image PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The making of art comes along with a sense of repetition; instead of a Tabula Rasa there is a confrontation and an endeavour in dealing and being in a dialogue with the past and the spectres that come along with it. The past as both heritage and burden, and a repetition that is inevitable yet impossible as well; the work of art rooted in tradition, yet an ever changing one with a sense of its aura being constantly redefined. Formalism after semiotics, and a sense of materiality that become questioned and explored; expanded forms of painting in an endeavour to trace their relationship and continuity with the past, as well as with the present that hosts and witnesses that and is itself flexible and in a state of flux.

The matter here is not a case of medium specificity, it is rather a state of flux of the aesthetic function of the work of art and how the latter is intertwined with the cultural context and the conditions that surround its making; a relationship between the work and its ground, whatever this may be.

Authenticity is a charged notion that has often led to misunderstandings due to the different ways it has been addressed and used in the past. It is a notion that has been linked, amongst others, to religion, to spirituality, to the pursuit of a profound truth, and even to totalitarianism. The question of authenticity becomes a challenge regarding what can be the New in relation to the already existing and regarding a form of making which can produce this. When addressed besides simplistic allegations on the handmade nature of the artwork, the question of authenticity opens into the following three components; the author-maker, his/her authority upon their act, and how the act/making can be seen in contemporary art and practice, particularly, in painting.

What becomes fundamental in this process is the notion of the Image along with its function and the way it relates to both its maker and beholder. The image seems to take a more active role than plainly having a passive stance as in a mere semiotic function; it moves beyond the role of the signifier and rather than just being looked at, looks back at the viewer gaining its own gaze and agency. It takes, in this way, an emancipated form and becomes animated. Through the autonomy that the image gains the making of it takes the form of an encounter with it, an encounter which decentres the maker from their dominant position rendering thus their authority upon the image threatened.

The struggle of the artist to redefine their identity and role within the existence of the language of their medium and to utter an individual logos becomes proliferated through the constraints of the cultural and sociological context that surrounds them. A struggle that has become further intensified in the recent years where a language that stems from a corporate or financial world seems to dominate and become implemented on any endeavour to find a personal language or voice; a multilayered hindrance that demands to be the centre of one’s attention, condemning functions as daydreaming or wandering to be wasted time; functions that are essential for one’s thinking and being, as well as for the making of art.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V350 History of Art
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W120 Painting
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 15:24
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2023 08:38
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4334
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