What Picasso says about understanding art is quite related to the way we approach abstract paintings. Lots of people believe that abstract paintings should have a particular meaning of some sort, 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 consequence of this situation is that people can either feel like these are being excluded from sharing in some secret knowledge, or alternatively conclude that Contemporary Abstract Painting is in fact all a sham. In either case, the result is that many people usually do not feel well-disposed towards modern art or abstract paintings.
I certainly identify with Picasso’s remark as far as my own, personal paintings are concerned. Basically If I had a specific message or a meaning that I could articulate in words, i then would articulate it in words – the painting might have no purpose. The complete point of creating an abstract painting is that it embodies something that only it could, in a way in which should not be placed into words. It is really not an essay it really is a painting – it encompasses and expresses things in a language which is unique to the medium of paint. For this reason we need to not try to ‘understand’ abstract paintings in the way people sometimes feel they ought in order to.
The viewer must not choose a clear narrative inside an abstract painting – it is far from planning to tell a tale, or refer to another ‘subject’ in the same manner that the 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 the subject”. Pollock’s statement is not only true, it is actually inevitable.
The experiences, personality, memories and mood in the abstract artist cannot help but be fed into the painting if the artist approaches the work inside an open and honest way. I do not need an outside subject or idea before I can create Black And White Paintings – I simply begin. The truth that I am me with no-one else is why my work different to anyone else’s, and the same is true of all the artists. The colours I choose, the marks a make, the accidents I select to depart, or obliterate, these are things which i choose as a result of who I am.
If you were to present many different artists with the same basic design on the canvas and ask them to pick up a brush and develop the painting, the differences in whatever they would choose to do will be enormous. I have watched other abstract artists at the office on paintings and thought “I would personally never in a million years have chosen that colour and put it there.” Not because I believe it is wrong or bad, but since they are who they really are and (to quote that other leading artist, Morrisey!) “only I am just I”.
Abstract paintings – There are lots of great varieties of painting on the market, as a result of a wealthy art history that has seen movement after movement. The phrase abstract art is frequently used a blanket term to explain non-representational art – that is the deficiency of recognisable subjects. Abstract art was connected to the rise of modernism during the last 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 in the artist’s canvas surface is certainly one major quality, as artists moved far from a convincing illusionism towards broader-minded thinking. With the invention of photography releasing the artist from painting as a method of recording reality, they began seeing the canvas surface being an object in the own right, using the canvas as being a single, flat expansive surface. Paint ‘acted’ and affected the flat surface and begun to form its kfkymg qualities in accordance with the way it was handled. The paint could exhibit ‘personality’, it had their own dimensions and opened a multitude of different techniques we percieve in artwork with the last century. One of many reasons artists began Extra Large Paintings in an abstract way was the opportunities for greater creativity. It allowed to get a greater selection of expression and the growth of ideas which were not dependent on representing reality any further.