Paintable, all too Paintable

Ethical Aesthetics: Emmanuel Lévinas, Gerhard Richter and Auguste Rodin

Richter’s re-working of modernism’s discourse of otherness, and particularly his deconstruction of binary difference through a pictorial post-structuralism that opens up ruptures, occlusions, loops, ambiguity and contradiction, connotes the philosophical discussions of otherness of Emmanuel Lévinas, Jacques Derrida, Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno. Their philosophical examinations of otherness particularly highlight the radical rethinking required for a prima facie ethical relationship with otherness, within contemporary epistemological, political, linguistic and aesthetic systems. Richter’s transposition of modernism into a grammar that is fractured with otherness withdraws the speaking voice, empties icons of their iconographic power, and ultimately casts subjectivity as oriented toward an otherness that cannot be identified, but which is bound up with an ethical priority.


Dr Darryn Ansted is Coordinator of Painting at Curtin University Department of Art. He has a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Fine Arts with first class honours and a PhD from the University of Western Australia. He has exhibited around Australia and internationally in 17 group projects/solo shows and has taught art history/theory and studio practice units at UWA and Curtin University respectively for three years. His practice involves experimentation with colour, perception and the image. He is particularly interested in modernist strategies’ potential to deconstruct ideology. He has also published on German modern and contemporary art, Australian architecture and public art, the Frankfurt school of critical theory and the theorists Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Žižek, Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Lévinas.