Research point: Negative and Positive space


Gary Hume is an English painter, draughtsman and printmaker. In the 1990’s he emerged as a leading artist in London. His imagery captured and defined a moment in time when the art scene was becoming professionalised and implicated with the media. He graduated from Goldsmiths University in 1988 and achieved success early with his paintings on hospital doors rendered with gloss. These works had an international appeal. Hume abandoned the door paintings in he 1990’s. Homes choice of subject matter meant he adopted figurative imagery as reason to his primary fixation with structure, surface and colour. The concentration on both literal and metaphoric surface was enhanced by the change from panel to aluminium support. At this point he began to focus on ‘flora, fauna and portraits’. He is known for his abstract figurative paintings on aluminium panels which are often vibrant colour combinations. His iconic works in this style are ‘Beginning for it’ and ‘the polar bear’. (Art Rabbit, 2017


Fig 1. Begging for it (1994)


This piece uses blocks of very vibrant colour. He creates this sense of background, mid ground, foreground. I feel unable to say much about this piece as it is very simplistic and I am struggling to find meaning, regarding the image itself


Love Love's Unlovable - Gary Hume
Fig 2. Love Loves Unloveable (1991)


This piece creates a deep sense of confusion. The positive and negative space is played around with and the black image on the left is almost unrecognisable as it is blends in with the background. Our mind is only assuming that there is an image of a person as there is a suggestion of this type of image on the right. The more I look at this piece I find the idea of it very reflective but disturbing. The image on the left almost creates a ghostly figure that can’t be notified as a figure, we only assume this. Both images are flip reversal of each other. Looking at it from another angle it almost looks like it is a rabbit with perhaps a person behind.


Gary Hume - The Polar Bear
Fig 3. Hermaphrodite Polar Bear (2005)


Art Rabbit. (2016) Gary Hume. At: (Accessed on 18 April)

Figure 1. Hume, G. (1994) Begging for it [gloss paint on panel] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 2. Hume, G (1991) Love Loves Unloveable [oil on panel] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 3. Hume, G (2005) Hermaphrodite Polar Bear [screenprint] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)


Rene Magritte was an internationally acclaimed surreal artist. He described his paintings as ‘my painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks one self this simple question, “What does it mean?” It does not mean anything because the mystery means nothing, it is unknowable’. (Rene Magritte, 2017)

Magritte was born in 1898 into a wealthy family. His mother committed suicide and the family were publicly humiliated because of it. From 1916 to 1918 Magritte decided to study art in Brussels but left because he thought that it was a waste of time. After this all his paintings reflected cubism. In 1992 he got married and took a number of small jobs to pay the bills. In between the times when he didn’t work he would work on his paintings which was when he realised he enjoyed the surrealist art form the most. The threatened assassin was one of his earliest surrealist style works that he showcased. In 1927 he had a solo exhibition and this was the time in his life when he was creating one piece of art a day. Critics were extremely negative about his solo show so he moved to Paris where he became friends with artist Andre Breton, founder of surrealism. From 1927-30 Magritte became more involved in the surrealist group and his paintings were described as cavernous showcasing bizarre scenes. To Magritte what is concealed within a painting is more important than what can be seen. If he wrapped a body in linen, if he spread curtains, if he concealed heads under hoods then it was not so much to hide as to achieve, an effect he employed this technique at a early stage. (Rene Magritte, 2017)

This is a really interesting ideas as I feel that you can put a spin on the ideas of positive and negative space and what can actually be seen in a painting is the positive space but the hidden meaning, the things you can’t see, the objects that aren’t present are the negative space. He’s not ‘hiding’ anything he’s creating an ‘effect’ on the painting that you see in front of you.


Fig 4. The Pilgrim (1966)

Magritte has thought about positive and negative space and composition. We only assume that the face is meant to go between the hat and the clothes due to the negative space that is left. The question is perhaps asked, ‘where does his head belong’/’why is his head not where it should be’ which is one question that I feel Magritte wanted the viewer to ask.

Fig 5. Decalcomania (1966)

I really like this piece. It is as if the figure has been cut out and placed on the opposite side. It has been taken from its original place and re-used. The definition of Decalcomania is ‘an art process of transferring pictures and designs from specially prepared paper’. I feel that this is what Magritte has done. the art process is used by surreal artists. The idea that he has transferred this image of a figure to another part of the paintings. Again we only assume it has been transferred due to the negative space that is left behind.

Fig 6. The Unexpected Answer (1933)


Fig 7. Personal Values (1952)


I think I have found a new favourite artist!!!!!!

Rene Magritte (2017) Rene Magritte and his paintings. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 4. Magritte, R. (1966) The Pilgrim [Illustration] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 5. Magritte, R. (1966) Decalcomania [oil on canvas] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 6. Magritte, R. (1933) The Unexpected Answer [painting] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 7. Magritte, R (1952) Personal Values [oil on canvas] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)


Avinoam ‘Noma’ Bar is an Israeli born graphic designer, illustrator and artist. His work has appeared in many magazines such as: Time Out London, Random House, BBC etc. His work is known internationally and he has won various prestigious awards such as: Yellow Pencil Award.

‘I am after maximum communication with minimum elements’. His works are very minimal but they create a very startling and punchy appearance. When you look at the work/paintings, you almost have an initial reaction to the picture and then you look again and notice a different thing about the picture making you think in other ways. Is the negative space really the negative and the positive space really the positive. They are just as important as each other. (Dutch Uncle, 2017)

Here are some examples of his work:

Fig 8. No title / Fig 9. Tea for Two

Dutch Uncle (2017) Noma Bar. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)


Shigeo Fukuda was a sculptor, graphic artist and poster designer who created optical illusions. His art pieces usually portray deception, such as: ‘Lunch with a helmet on’ – a sculpture which is made up from forks, knives and spoons that have been cast together to create a detailed shadow of a motorbike.

At the end of WWII Fukuda became interested in minimalist swiss style of graphic design and he graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1956. He completed a wide range of commercial work including an official poster for the 1970 world’s fair in Osaka. A pair of posters created to celebrate Earth Day include a design showing the Earth as a seed opening against a solid sea-blue background and ‘1982 Happy Earth Day’ which shows an axe with its head against the ground and a small branch sprouting upwards from its handle. His work ‘Victory 1945’ won him the grand prize at the 1975 Warsaw poster contest. (Fergo, R. 2013)


victory Shigeo Fukuda
Fig 10. Victory (1945)






Fig 11. Happy Earth Day (1982) 


As a designer Fukuda feels a sense of moral responsibility and because of this, some of his designs reveal his convictions. His famous poster ‘Victory 1945’ is a comment on the senselessness of war. At the time war was a big business and the simplicity of the poster and his simplistic ideas of peace is what won him the grand prize. The natural trend for designer of Asia is to look towards western trends and ideas but this was something Fukuda didn’t want to do. He had strong anti-war influences – think of the larger scale of things. Nuclear, the more life changing effects of war. (Johnny 2015)

In 1980 Fukuda created a poster for Amnesty International which features a clenched fist interwoven with barbed wire, with the letter ‘s’ in the word amnesty at the top of the poster formed from a linked shackle.


Fig 12. Amnesty (1980)


‘Lunch with a helmet on’


motorbike Shigeo Fukuda
Fig 13. Lunch with a helmet on 


For this piece Fukuda wanted to create a £D object in which the shadow, not the form, represented an actual object. Fukuda remarked that is was very difficult to create a 3D object in this fashion that allows light to penetrate in this way. Fukuda used 848 pieces of cutlery to construct this piece. (Optical-illusionist, 2009)

Fergo, R. (2013) Shigeo Fukuda. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Johnny (2015) Antiwar Posters by Graphic Designer Shigeo Fukuda At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Optical-illusionist (2009) Lunch with a helmet on. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 10. Fukuda, S. Victory. (1945) [poster] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 11. Fukuda, S. Happy Earth Day (1982) [poster] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 12. Fukuda, S. Amnesty (1980) [poster] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 13. Fukuda, S. Lunch with a helmet on [sculpture] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s