Meta Figure: The Body in Paint - 3D virtual exhibition by OCAD University's Faculty of Art

Meta Figure: The Body in Paint

Mon, 09/21/2020 to Tue, 09/21/2021

curated by:

This exhibition highlights the work created by students in Natalie Majaba Waldburger’s Drawing and Painting studio/seminar class “Meta-Figure: The Body in Paint” this past Summer. The course was offered in an online asynchronous format with students working on several artworks and related readings to unravel current debates and discussions through collective discourse and artmaking. Accompanied by texts selected from philosophy, cultural studies, and literature that speaks to a number of issues; human impact on the planet, speculations on symbiotic human/non-human relationships, decolonization, systemic racism, and Black Futures, students considered the subject of contemporary figuration and representation through a series of exploratory process artworks and critical texts to dismantle academic figure painting and its coded histories.

In the context of the current climate of COVID, social change, and environmental justice and in anticipation of new ways of thinking about the body or bodies students also navigated alternate methods painting from the observation, in their home studios and without a model. To do this, students offered creative responses to the fundamental challenges of observational painting from life and expanded these ideas broadly through three process studies and a final artwork. First, they were asked to think about the space around the body by creating a diorama, built from reclaimed materials, to house a figure, asking the question about environments, generally, and ecosystems as bodies. Secondly, students were asked to consider “movement” – in order to “build a thing that moves and paint it". They considered the expansiveness of this idea – from the individual physical movements of observing a model in a pose to social movements that represent shifts in large-scale thinking. Thirdly, students proposed their own “invented” process study. Each constructed micro-space was then painted from observation. Their final pieces drew on their previous three studies to create a piece that contemplated the “figure” or “the body”. The subsequent self-directed work is featured in this digital exhibition alongside the student's in-process works and represents the dialogue with the members of this class as they engaged in critical figurative practices.

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