Allan Norris

Open University
Award year: 2018
Thesis title: Figuration in the Work of Post-conceptual British Women Painters

The most significant development in painting since the 1990s has been the return to figuration. Yet for some critics this revival remains a regressive approach. Despite this, many women artists with feminist affiliations such as Jenny Saville, Cecily Brown, Chantal Joffe and Lucy McKenzie have used painting as a means to reject modernist phallocentricity. My thesis investigates how their emergence and ongoing influence in the international art market signals an important transitional moment in recent British art. From the relative antipathy to representational painting during 1990s conceptualism to growing critical attention today, we have seen a marked shift that continues to confound notions of painting’s demise. Research will explore this phenomenon and the work of these artists in depth. Engaging with discourses around appropriation, reception and gender subjectivity, it will analyse the extent to which the relationship between painting and representation serves to construct, negotiate or subvert prevailing hegemonic structures. It will also examine the neglected role of black and Asian women artists in these crucial developments.

Supervised by: Warren Carter, Leon Waiwright

Research interests

Modern and contemporary art and visual culture

Contact: Email Allan (