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This research examines the history and theory o f silent' painting to discover why particular paintings were called silent, what the term was meant to signify, and how the quality of silence was discernible in the paintings it described. The imderstanding thus gauied is in tum the subject of further analysis through (documented) reflective practice, which recognises a broader context of contemporary theoretical and practical viewpoints. The purpose is to investigate, through practice, the characteristics and potentialities of silence. From the emergence of'silent' painting in America during the 1950s and 60s, the idea of silence is examined in terms of its associations with Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. An initial assiunption that 'silent painting' is simply another way of referring to monotonal painting is at first expanded to accommodate theories promoting the grid as an equally effective device for achieving silence, but then challenged. Questions arise concemmg intention and the lack of it, degrees of silence, the nature of silence, the different ways in which silence can be read, the impossibility of silence, the feeling of silence, and the quality of silence aimed at in my own practice. An overall concem of the research is the integration of theory and practice. The thesis presented here provides an historical and theoretical explication, guided and shaped by questions arising from practice. It includes a critique of the work produced. The scientifically demonstrated argument that silence is impossible is countered by one foimded on feeling. It is on the basis of feeling (not expression) that, in the later stages of the research, suitable strategies are devised for painting silence.
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