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Curated Collection: Negative Space

A painting of what appears to be a clump of black feathers on a beige backgroundBlack Hybrid III, oil on birch panel, Robert Porazinski

It’s time for another Curated Collection! This month’s theme is Negative Space. Negative space is the space in an artwork, be that in a painting, photograph, or even a sculpture that is not used – basically, the opposite of the image. Negative space may not seem important at first, but it can really set the tone for a picture, and determine whether or not an image has aesthetic appeal.

An ink drawing of a zebra being accosted by butterfliesThe Sweetness of Knowing, pen and ink on paper, Joni Belaruski

A Bridget Riley painting of several wavy lines in greyscaleArrest 3, acrylic on linen, Bridget Riley

I find that negative space can lend a lot of visual impact to a work – rather than seeing the subject of a painting and then being absorbed in the detail of a background, we are given the subject and nothing else. Coloured or textured examples of this type of space are really interesting because they really show that the space is deliberate, and that the artist wants you to focus particularly on the object or the foreground of the image. I like the way that colour and texture can determine if the space is going to be quiet, or if it seems to try to overtake the subject – either of which can lend a dynamism to a painting of an otherwise mundane subject.


A horse painting by Susan RothenbergUntitled (Horse), oil, Susan Rothenberg

An ink drawing of some trees in a backyard, made with a pointilism-like techniqueBlenheim Takedown, ink on Rives BFK, Cameron McLellan

This collection features works by Joni Belaruski, Robert Porazinski, Cameron McLellan, Bridget Riley, Sol Lewitt and Susan Rothenberg.


A geometric wall drawing by Sol LewittWall Drawing #343, Sol Lewitt



About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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