Representational painting requires an imaginative leap, however modest, to transport the viewer into the fictive world of the painted surface. Whist it is reasonably straightforward to grasp the extent to which the subject matter of a picture might have been dealt with in an imaginative manner, it is sometimes more difficult to acknowledge how the physical construction of the picture might have arisen as a consequence of ‘visual imagination.’ As David Peters Corbett rightly declared in ‘The World of Paint’ and specifically in relation to the materiality of painting’ Any analysis that refuses to engage with that signification and its processes, which neglects, that is, to develop an account of the historical resonance of the physical manipulation of material in painting, must be inadequate as an account.’
When looking at paintings through digital means it is perhaps understandable that the iconography of the image can take precedence over the means of execution and the materiality of that image. This paper will attempt to redress that balance by examining works by a number of contemporary painters including Lucian Freud and Odd Nerdrum in order to demonstrate how factors including composition and touch have been utilised and exploited to enhance and invigorate the creative and imaginative potential of an art idea.
Figurative painter Devane is a painting professor at Coventry University and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) in the United Kingdom.
He studied painting at the Royal College of Art, graduating with an MA (RCA) in 1980. He has exhibited widely and taught in UK art schools ever since. Much of his teaching career has been connected to Coventry University, where he is now employed as part of the research community.
As a practicing artist his main preoccupation is with the human form and the portrait. In 2013 Devane was awarded second prize and runner-up in the BP National Portrait Competition. In 2018 his work was selected for the Columbia Threadneedle Prize: Figurative Art Today and exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London.