To see or not to see: pareidolias and abstract painting

Palin, Tom ORCID logoORCID: (2018) To see or not to see: pareidolias and abstract painting. In: British Abstract Painting in the Eighties, 14 September 2018, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry. (Unpublished)


This paper was delivered as part of a one-day painting symposium, titled: British Abstract Painting in the Eighties, which took place in the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, on Friday 14th September 2018. The speakers were: Maggie Ayliffe, Rebecca Fortnum, Susan Liggett, Christopher McHugh, Tom Palin, Zino Pece, Daniel Sturgis, David Sweet, and the Key Note, David Ryan. The symposium was co-hosted by the Visual Arts Group (Coventry University) and the Herbert Museum & Art Gallery, and focussed on developments in British abstract painting in the 1980s. The presentations considered the legacies of abstraction, and what it is possible or credible to pursue within painting. My paper addresses the functionality of abstract painting in respect of the phenomenon of pareidolia, against the backdrop of a pluralisation of practices brought about, in part, by responses to Geenbergian formalism and the advent of Conceptual Art. Of particular note is the importance and retention of likeness as a perceptual framework within which to approach abstract painting’s meaning, the particularities of spectatorship, and the experiential possibilities of picturing more generally.

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