What Picasso says about understanding art is quite relevant to the way we approach abstract paintings. Lots of people believe that abstract paintings should have a specific concept of some kind, which could be clearly understood and articulated if only they knew how. This misconception is not helped by the endless supply of people prepared to spout nonsense about what believe that the artist was seeking to say. The almost inevitable results of this case is that people can either feel as though these are being excluded from sharing in some secret knowledge, or alternatively conclude that Contemporary Abstract Painting is in fact all a sham. In any event, the result is that lots of people usually do not feel well-disposed towards modern art or abstract paintings.
I certainly identify with Picasso’s remark in terms of my very own paintings are involved. If I had a specific message or even a meaning that I really could articulate in words, then I would articulate it in words – the painting might have no purpose. The entire reason for creating an abstract painting is that it embodies something that only it can, in a way in which can not be placed into words. It is not an essay it is a painting – it encompasses and expresses things in a language that is certainly unique to the medium of paint. This is why we need to not make an effort to ‘understand’ abstract paintings in the way people sometimes feel they ought to be able to.
The viewer should never look for a clear narrative within an abstract painting – it is not going to tell a story, or refer to an external ‘subject’ in the same way which a figurative painting will. But that does not 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 the niche”. Pollock’s statement is not only true, it really is inevitable.
The experiences, personality, memories and mood of the abstract artist cannot help but be fed in to the painting when the artist approaches the job inside an open and honest way. I do not require another subject or idea before I will create Hand Painted Oil Paintings – I simply begin. The reality that I am me with no-one else is why my work different to anyone else’s, and the same is true of artists. The colours I choose, the marks a make, the accidents I select to depart, or to obliterate, these are generally things that I choose because of who I am just.
If you were to present a number of different artists with the exact same basic design over a canvas and ask them to get a brush and develop the painting, the variations in the things they would decide to do would be enormous. I have watched other abstract artists at work on paintings and thought “I might never in a million years have selected that colour and place it there.” Not because I believe it is wrong or bad, but as they are who they really are and (to quote that other leading artist, Morrisey!) “only I am I”.
Abstract paintings – There are lots of great varieties of painting available, arising from a wealthy art history that has seen movement after movement. The word abstract art is usually used a blanket term to describe non-representational art – which is the lack of recognisable subjects. Abstract art was linked to the rise of modernism over the past century, coming into the mainstream with abstract expressionism in post-war art but still continuing to influence artists today.
What brought regarding the qualities we percieve in abstract art? The flattening of the artist’s canvas surface is certainly one major quality, as artists moved away from a convincing illusionism towards broader-minded thinking. Using the invention of photography releasing the artist from painting as a means of recording reality, they began seeing the canvas surface as an object in the own right, using the canvas as being a single, flat expansive surface. Paint ‘acted’ and affected the flat surface and began to form its kfkymg qualities according to the way it was handled. The paint could exhibit ‘personality’, it had its very own dimensions and exposed a multitude of different techniques we percieve in artwork from the last century. One of the primary reasons artists began Extra Large Paintings inside an abstract way was the opportunities for greater creativity. It allowed for any greater variety of expression and the development of ideas that were not dependent on representing reality any further.