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Wed, 13 Mar

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Tresillian Arts Centre

The Reversed Canvas and the Origins of Painting: Four Impulses in Studio Paintings

Professor Read examines the origins of easel painting from the fifteenth-century onwards and the motif of the backs of paintings in studio paintings.

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The Reversed Canvas and the Origins of Painting: Four Impulses in Studio Paintings
The Reversed Canvas and the Origins of Painting: Four Impulses in Studio Paintings

Time & Location

13 Mar 2024, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Tresillian Arts Centre, 21 Tyrell St, Nedlands WA 6009, Australia

About the Event

Painting, like singing, seems eternal, but not so the medium of easel paintings that still haunts our galleries and homes. Few realize that until the fifteenth-century, images were generally painted on both sides and only when they became one-sided around the fifteenth-century could artists begin to depict their hidden sides, most famously in the huge canvas turned against the spectator in Velázquez’s The Handmaidens  (Las Meninas, 1656). Starting with the subject of St Luke Painting the Virgin, the motif proliferates in paintings of artists’ studios where the backs of canvases are exposed during their preparation or turned against the wall pending transport to places of display.

This lecture examines the origins of easel painting from the fifteenth-century onwards until ‘The Death of Painting’ in the 1970s when installation, performance and video art began to challenge its supremacy over other media. Four impulses are explored in paintings of the backs of paintings in studio paintings. One is to turn the studio into a theatre of the world. Another presents it as a retreat from the world where serenity serves creativity. A third turns the studio into a revolutionary arena for improving the world, while a fourth reveals it as a prison arising from the world’s hostility and neglect.

A large exhibition at the Prado Museum until 3 March this year addresses the theme of the reversed canvas. Professor Read has recently negotiated a contract for the first full-length book on the subject after discovering many thousand examples of the motif. He is eager to share his enthusiasm for this strangely enigmatic form of ‘metapainting.’

Richard Read is Emeritus Professor and Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, Perth. He is widely published and presents art lectures in an engaging and informative way for all audiences.

Hosted by Tresillian Arts Centre. 

Image: Diego Velázquez, The Handmaidens (Las Meninas), 1656, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Tickets

  • General admission

    This ticket includes lecture, open discussion and light refreshments.

    $30.00
    Tax: GST included
    Sale ended

Total

$0.00

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