Studies in Pictorial Space

  • David James Dernie CUHK


This paper explores the use of mixed media in contemporary spatial and architectural practice. It is an introduction to a set of preparatory works for wall paintings, completed between 2017-20. The 12 panels are inspired by the tradition of ‘cartone’, or cartoons in the visual arts, that were preliminary studies for painted space. They are made using natural coloured pigments, paper collage and material textures. As such they appear as arrangements of fields of colour, and their surfaces tend to have a complex depth.

The project is grounded on the understanding of architecture as a representational discipline. It draws on notions of spatial perception that are first articulated by Merleau Ponty (1962), enmeshed sensorial experience, and participatory experience in visual phenomena - the work is intended to take forward the dialogue between architecture and the humanities.

Colour and its materiality have also long been the subject of philosophical and theoretical debate and by exploring colour and space through hybrid drawing, we may inquire if colour is mind-independent: are colours simply qualities of objects/spaces or can colour be understood relationally, integral to spatial and material experience? Situating the work in the context of the historical development of pictorial space in painting and architecture, this study then asks how mixed media visual practice can contribute to the development of forms of critical spatial practice. For instance, in an age of resource depletion, an exploration of the potential of low-impact pigmented surfaces has an ecological imperative.

How to Cite
DERNIE, David James. Cartone. TRACEY, [S.l.], v. 15, p. 1-23, may 2021. ISSN 1742-3570. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 04 dec. 2021.