Imaging affect: abstraction and the echo of the unknowable

As a visual artist my primary interest is in abstraction, that is that in which the apparently “imageless” is given image-form. I aim to explore both theoretically and practically the role of affect within abstraction as a means by which pictorial significance and content is generated. Theoretically I will explore affect through the late work of Lyotard and his notion of the affect-phrase. This is an under-examined aspect of Lyotard and articulates a valuable way to look at the origins of affect and its impact and ramifications for art.  Practically I will apply these understandings to the development of my own creative work which includes both painting and digital work.

My studio practice is involved in exploring the abstract through the powerful and restless “silence” of affect creating a porous, open space where each work or body of work ‘leaks’ into the next occasioning a sense of borderlessness, or of uncertainty. This interpenetration and co-mingling of discrete, conceptual and material terrains combines to present complex temporal and spatial slippages evident within the works themselves and their making, but also evident in bodies of work across the chronology of their making. Through a mapping of my own painting and digital arts practice and the utilisation of Lyotard’s notion of the affect-phrase I aim to describe the action of affect on creativity and explore and explain affect’s significance for that we call image, and its animation for what we call critical discourse.


Daniel Mafe studied and exhibited in London from 1979 until 1990. Since his return to Australia he has exhibited regularly and currently shows with Jan Manton Art in Brisbane. He is represented in public collections including the Museum of Fine Art, Ostende, the Queensland Art Gallery, Artbank, and Bailleau-Myer Collection. His research interests include creative practice-led research and contemporary visual art with a strong focus on abstraction. He is recently completed a practice-led PhD entitled Rephrasing Voice:
Art, Practice-led Research and the Limits and Sites of Articulacy which explored the tension of affectivity and critique as defining elements of the ‘artist’s voice’ and its value for research. Daniel is a Senior Lecturer in Visual Arts for the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT.