Beyond the Recurring Motif

15, Apr 2019 to 15, May 2019
Motif. Pattern. Design. Repetition. Not.

Typically, we think of a motif as repeated pattern, an unvarying decorative detail in design. However beautiful or detailed it may be, it still conjures up imagery of a repeated ‘pattern’. Yet in music, motif is the smallest structural unit that possesses thematic identity. In literature, it is a recurring image or idea that helps to take the central theme forward. In its repetition it emphasizes what is most important about the piece of poetry or prose. Motif thus can be recurrence or repetition but not pattern.

Is there more to the presence of a motif in the visual arts? This exhibition demonstrates how a ‘motif’ becomes an aesthetic device within the visual arts and is employed by artists to put forward the underlying concept. If a certain form, shape, colour or figure is repeated it is likely that it means something. In the works selected for this show, repetition creates a more appealing, poetic and structured narrative to establish the overarching theme of the oeuvre. Whether it is to highlight the motif of love, guilt, nature, sexuality or feeling, the recurring images over these multiplied surfaces help reinforce the central idea.

Through this exhibition, we hope to demonstrate how an artist uses repetition and that motif is like a little harmonic cell that contains within it, some or all the special characteristic of the whole work