This paper examines the contemporary British artist Mark Fairnington’s Mantidae series of paintings (2000) via the representational methods of his working process. Taking each stage of this process in turn, the paper examines key discourses surrounding mid-nineteenth-century approaches to painting, microscopy, photography and montage dialogically in its analysis of Fairnington’s own approach. The paper subsequently argues that the Mantidae paintings operate as visual metafictions rooted in Victorian explorations of representation and reality. In its consideration of visual artworks through this literary model, the paper argues that close similitude exists between key theorisations within neo-Victorian studies and postmodern art theory. Ultimately, the paper seeks to initiate a cross-disciplinary application of literary theory surrounding metafiction in its examination of how the visual arts demonstrate self-conscious exploitations of historically-located forms of mediation.
Elstob, I. (2018). Visual Metafictions: Mark Fairnington's 'Mantidae' Paintings and Victorian Representations of the 'Real'. Neo-Victorian Studies, 10(2), 129-158