From deception to insight

From deception to insight. Possibilities and limits of the trompe l’oeil as critical pictorial strategy

Ritsart Gobyn

  • Research unit: Image
  • Research group: Art & Argument

The trompe l’oeil developed in the 17th century to one of the first (self)critical pictorial strategies, but it got surpassed by new media (photography, film, 3D, VR) that increasingly realised the exact copy of reality. Starting with my own artistic practice and the contemporary revival of the ‘genre’ as a critical pictorial strategy, my doctoral research examines the hypothesis that the trompe l’oeil can function as a searchlight in the artistic process of creation. My aim is to examine, through methods such as copy (duplication) and mise-en-scene (as a spatial expansion of the image/object), how the trompe l’oeil can offer insight in our visual cultural interaction with notions such as fiction, the imaginary, the illusory, and the real. By doing so, I will contribute to the debate about the position of the artistic image in relation to  (the cult of) ‘authenticity’ and truthfulness in times of high technological visual simulacra and the virtual erosion of the ‘fact’ (‘post-truth’) under influence of the ‘fake’. I aim to test, through the interaction of painting, architecture, and sculpture, the possibilities of ‘honest’ artistic pretending as a form of critical (self)reflection. Topical questions arise concerning the relation between result and process, art and authenticity. What is the critical value of an image that constantly tilts the glance of the spectator between surface and depth, inside and outside, creation and reflection?

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