Reflections on and Refractions in Painting Practices

Paxson, Pat. 2004. Reflections on and Refractions in Painting Practices. UNSPECIFIED thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

My aim in the written thesis is to scrutinize a particular stage in the process of image making by means of ideas generated by psychoanalytic theory, in particular Lacan’s concept of the gaze. I propose a three stage model of image making: 1) planning, 2) absorption or ‘un-thought’, and 3) judging; they are seen together as a spiral process. My primary interest is the second stage, both in my studio practice and in the written thesis. In the studio this can be seen in the conjunction between passages emphasizing energy, for instance passages emphasizing a ‘re-invigoration’ of the figure by means of an investigation into mark making and cartoon elements, and passages emphasizing form and colour.

In the written work, by using Lacan’s concept of the gaze as template, then employing ideas such as ‘figure’ and ‘dissimulation’ within the libidinal economy (Lyotard), syncretistic scanning and the ability of the primary processes to learn and develop (Ehrenzweig), and the matrixial gaze (Lichtenberg-Ettinger), I aim to illuminate the ‘un-thought’ stage of image making by means of a consideration of libidinal as well as semiotic processes. By including aspects of schizoanalysis (Deleuze and Guattari), I ‘re-contextualize’ Lacan’s concepts of ‘lack’ and the empty signifier and retain his other ideas relating to his (late) concept of the gaze. Schizoanalysis, in providing an extended concept of the unconscious, aids in re-considering Lacan’s concept of the gaze within the context of the process of image making.

Working from this basis I propose a grouping of (existing) ideas that I term the libidinal gaze, brought together for the purpose of reflecting on the un-thought stage in the process of image making. In doing so, I consider both concepts of perception as influenced by the processes and energy of the unconscious, and concepts of the unconscious as reflected through post-Freudian and post-Lacanian psychoanalytic thought.

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Pat Paxson's images are included in separate PDF files and are copyright: the artist. Images by other artists are not included, due to existing third party copyright restrictions.


Painting; Gaze; Figure; Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger

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Date Deposited:

25 Oct 2007

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 10:34


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