Past scholars

Mr. Stuart Knighton-Callister

Bath Spa University (School of Art & Design)

Project: Chance as an Operating Strategy in Contemporary Abstraction: Purpose, Process and Meaning(s)

Mr Stuart Knighton-Callister

To test the validity of the continuing practice of Chance-based procedures in Contemporary Abstract Painting in relation to the historical use of Chance by artists in the twentieth century. This will result in a series of finished paintings outlining my informed position in relation to work in this area. One way of thinking about paintings is that they are visual objects arising from sets of decisions and actions. Their meaning derives from the way in which concepts are evident in painting strategies physically realised. One of the continuing strands of 20th century art is the use of Chance as a working strategy. This is evident in the work of numerous contemporary painters. Early in 20th century a number radical pioneer artists for example Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst incorporated Chance based procedures into their painting activity in order to do one of the following: confront concepts of aesthetic judgement, avoid making such 'taste based' judgements by using 'mechanised' processes, or to stimulate imaginative imagery. My intention is to survey current practice in this area, particularly through new interviews as well as published and unpublished texts, in order to identify the artists' purposes for using chance- based procedures and compare apparent purposes with those of key radical practitioners in the first half of 20th Century. Ultimately this is to establish a viable basis for a continuing contemporary practice in this area, continuing the 'tradition' of a chance - based strategy for 21st century painting. In the studio I will explore some of the technical methods used by the radical pioneers, as well as recent practitioners, in order clarify how these methods and strategies work in practice, and to experience an understanding of the relationship between the making and reading of these works. This will include how the meaning of the outcome of such strategies might have changed over the century, as well as how the purpose of such practice is conveyed to the audience through painting. This exploration will form the basis of a body of work, made throughout the investigation and culminating in a substantial exhibition of paintings. It should also form a foundation from which others can understand this area of activity and also develop their own painting practice.