University of Tasmania

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Heaven's above - celestial ceilings : a contemporary paragon of Apotheosis

posted on 2023-05-26, 22:59 authored by Brookes, WA
The Project seeks to investigate the relationship between the visual virtuosity of pictorial space and the conjecture it bestows on the spectator. It does so by scrutinizing the visual, historic and metaphoric attributes of 17 th and 18th century Quadratura ceiling painting as a speculative implication of self-image. In this way, the anamorphic canopy of the Apotheosis becomes an allegorical symbol of 'the process of becoming' or aspiring to 'personal best'. The role of the ceiling appliance in my work is that of a contained decorative device, elements of a greater apparatus. These are sutured together as a tapestry of this genus in order to create an explanatory manifest of my experience of this genre. It is a collage of an abstracted, faux- realism, where the map of the heavens is pulled from the 'sotto in su' [up from under] and reinstalled on a conventional axis. As simulacra of a Catholic or Mythological eternity, the rendering of the Apotheosis, while being, historically, a flirtation with immortality, re-emerges as accelerated ocular saturations within the digital era. Its parallel universe within contemporary practice is the extreme spectacle of Hyper-Maximism occurring within the 'Mondrian in Hyperspace' of Benjamin Edwards, the \Amphetamine Rauschenberg\" of Shepard Fairey James Rosenquist's propulsion towards media catastrophe and the cultural splatter-fest of Joe Coleman together with the Clayton Brothers. The visual connections of the Apotheosis are also absolutely indexed within the topographical epilepsy of Stencil Art. The dense layered surface establishes the exquisite irony of disproportionate detail being the vehicle by which Realism becomes abstraction. My work attempts to transcend realism by evoking a sense of virtual hallucination within a facsimilized vision of Apotheosis and its anti-gravitational transferral. While the original Counter-Reformation promise was revelation through eloquent artifice it was a cross-bred mercantile version of divine light. The cupola or ceiling became convincing Evangelic grammar. While it spoke louder than the scriptures it is a familiar space and it addresses us directly in the proverbial language of the televisual world. I weave these Baroque spores of spectacle within the tapestry of contemporary practice. The major pieces evolved from preliminary appendices of surface space and illusion. They largely addressed the notion of the nobility of objects and the relationship between wall and ceiling. Here the hybrid began to emerge as each work asserted itself as genuine given the space they replicated - The Mars Salon (Versailles) the Graphics Arts Consultation room (Louvre) or the Object'd'Arts Gallery (The Getty Museum) but the intension was to produce convincing pastiches that summarised the adventure. These early works evolved into major forensic dissections based on the husks of the St Nicholas Cathedral in Prague and the II Gesu in Rome. Their architectural structures served as a larder or scaffold into which alternative anamorphic devices and interior apparatus could be transplanted. The fusion of alternative fresco schemas and interior manifests create a collaboration between decorative fetish and a desire for spectacle. The visual catharsis of these spaces is the paragon of my personal apotheosis and ultimately my portrait."


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2009 the author Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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