End of Year Symposium: What Painting Does

Throughout this last year  our central concern as graduate students of painting has been to extend our knowledge of paint in all its forms and all its actions. We have talked about paint, we have read about paint, we have listened to others talk about paint, we have written about paint, we have looked at paintings and most of all we have painted. We wanted to conclude our year of research with an in-depth discussion on some of the main issues that have exercised us during this time.

We are particularly concerned to hear the views of other painters. In research terms painting is unusual. Its unique language and sometimes ineffable qualities mean that the usual research methods which involve impartial observers collecting and analysing data on a particular subject can be somewhat inadequate when analysing painting and what painting does.

There is an aspect of painting that is difficult to articulate except through the act of painting itself. It is often not enough to simply look at paintings and observe painters. In order to understand painting fully it is probably necessary to do something akin to participant observation. As an anthropologist becomes a member of a particular social group or tribe that he is researching in order to deepen his understanding, it may be useful to understand painting by being a painter and by exploring painting with other painters.

In order to investigate this and other issues we have invited some established painters to form a panel where aspects of painting will be discussed. Following James Elkins, we are particularly interested in the materiality of paint, how it functions and what it can do. I am hoping to use the event to extend my own research into the possibilities of using paint and painting to help us come to a better understanding of social and political issues. By having painters talking to painters about paint we hope to build on the extensive research we have conducted throughout this year.

The event will take place at Wimbledon College of Arts on the 7th September 2016.

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