“Everyone wants to know art. Why not try to comprehend the song of a bird?…people who try to explain pictures are generally barking the wrong tree.” – Pablo Picasso
What Picasso says about understanding art is extremely relevant to how we approach Abstract Painting. Lots of people believe that abstract paintings will need to have a specific meaning of some type, which could be clearly understood and articulated if only they knew how. This misconception is not helped through the endless flow of people prepared to spout nonsense in regards to what believe that the artist was attempting to say. The almost inevitable consequence of this situation is the fact that people either can feel as if they are being excluded from sharing in some secret knowledge, or alternatively conclude that abstract painting is in fact all a sham. Either way, the result is that many individuals tend not to feel well-disposed towards modern art or abstract paintings.
I certainly identify with Picasso’s remark in terms of my own, personal paintings are concerned. If I had a specific message or even a which means that I was able to articulate in words, i then would articulate it in words – the painting might have no purpose. The complete reason for creating an abstract painting is that it embodies a thing that only it could, in a way that can not be placed into words. It is really not an essay it really is a painting – it encompasses and expresses things in a language that is certainly unique to the medium of paint. For this reason we should not attempt to ‘understand’ abstract paintings in the manner people sometimes feel they ought to be able to.
The viewer must not choose a clear narrative in an abstract painting – it is really not likely to tell a narrative, or make reference to another ‘subject’ in the same way that a figurative painting will. But that does not always mean there is not any meaning or no subject, or that abstract paintings cannot contact and move people. When asked about subject material, the Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock said, “I am just the topic”. Pollock’s statement is not only true, it really is inevitable.
The experiences, personality, memories and mood from the Contemporary Art cannot help but be fed to the painting if the artist approaches the task within an open and honest way. I do not need an outside subject or idea before I can produce a painting – I simply begin. The truth that I am just me and no-one else is what makes my work different to anyone else’s, and the same is true of artists. The colours I select, the marks a make, the accidents I choose to depart, or to obliterate, these are generally all things which i choose because of who I am.
If you decide to present a number of different artists with the same basic design over a canvas and make them pick-up a brush and develop the painting, the variations in what they would choose to do could be enormous. We have watched other abstract artists at work on paintings and thought “I would never in a million years have chosen that colour and put it there.” Not because I believe that it is wrong or bad, but because they are who they are and (to quote that other leading artist, Morrisey!) “only I am just I”.
Abstract paintings – There are many great styles of painting out there, as a result of a rich art history which has seen movement after movement. The phrase abstract art is often used a blanket term to explain non-representational art – which is the lack of recognisable subjects. Abstract art was connected to the rise of modernism over the last century, coming into the mainstream with abstract expressionism in post-war art but still continuing to influence artists today.
What brought about the qualities we see in abstract art? The flattening in the artist’s canvas surface is just one major quality, as artists moved away from a convincing illusionism towards broader-minded thinking. With the invention of photography releasing the artist from painting as a means of recording reality, they began seeing the canvas surface being an object in its own right, using the canvas being a single, flat expansive surface. Paint ‘acted’ and affected the flat surface and started to form its ignqsj qualities according to how it was handled. The paint could exhibit ‘personality’, it had its very own dimensions and opened a range of different techniques we percieve in artwork through the last century. One of the main reasons artists began painting in Black And White Painting was the opportunities for greater creativity. It allowed to get a greater selection of expression and the development of ideas which were not dependent on representing reality any further.