Appreciation of Abstract paintings can be a joyful experience.
Imagine standing in front of a painting, and having a conversation with unknown. Sailing our ships to peaceful avenues through storms of uncertainty. Eventually, Untitled paintings or picture can be more complicated to understand and appreciated.. Especially if the patron is not acquainted with the artist or not aware of the understanding of the art. Most of the time, abstract painting explained to the viewer in aspects of line, colour, texture forms etc. Theoretical. There is more to the abstract art, which is less complicated.
Interestingly, we don’t need to be a pro in art appreciation to understand any of it. It is a visual art, and propose of every art is to entertain. It might sometimes deviate towards advocacy but it not being the sole purpose. But there is the reason for it as there is at least one for everything.
And this simple analysis of the journey of understanding the ways to appreciate abstract art would help you the perceive the thought an artist wants to convey, If not it will help you accept the fact that it is okay not to understand something.
Not because you can’t, but they are not meant to be understood but to be experienced. There is beauty in the mystery that it holds.
What is “Abstract” before we see Abstract Art?
To understand the allegory of abstract painting, we first need to understand the underlying definition of abstraction. Abstraction means to filter information that one might think is excess or irrelevant. To withdraw what one feels is necessary from something. Hence, after subtraction of such information, what we get is Abstract of the information. Essential points if you like.
We use abstraction in every walk of life. To convey information which is precise, or relevant to the one who is receiving. It eases out the communication. Similarly, it is used to represent the important information in art. To borrow a different perspective towards the same subject.
Artists apply abstraction to such extent that it might transform the subject into unrecognisable object or scene. Just a thought of the matter. Or a feel of what is. Hence many of the artwork in modern art are untitled.
So what is Abstract painting?
This article is not an attempt to learn and study movements in history and types of abstract paintings. But this is an attempt to gain a perspective towards an appreciation of abstract paintings, to understand them better.
Abstract art is the capability that does not attempt to characterise a specific depiction of a visual reality but instead evaluates it’s defining aspects to advance its effect.
I believe, Every Painting is an abstract painting. Now that is a bold statement you might think. Everything that is reproduced no matter how realistic it seems is an abstraction of the subject. It is a representation of the issue. Therefore even a photograph of the subject could be considered as abstract because the photo of a person is not the person. The real person or subject is continuously changing every day, every moment. The photograph is just a documentation of a particular moment, or an event of the life, or journey of the subject. Or the gesture that suggests a persona, or essence of the subject.
Eventually, the sequence of this moment can be used to tell a story. It is an abstraction of the person. But we are going to focus on paintings in this article.
So what are the aspects of the real subject, that are filtered out? And how it affects the meaning of the representation? We will look into this matter in after reading; lets first understand the process of filtration that the artists execute.
In another way abstract painting or art in any form can be regarded as arranging, rearranging, subtracting any piece of information that is excess, to represent the subject in art. The process and result of the abstraction can vary from artist to artist. It would depend on what is it, that is of immense importance to the artist. What is it that inspires an artist to paint can change the process of abstraction. There is artist encouraged by nature, thoughts, light, emptiness, violence, the intersection of perspectives etc.
What is there to understand in Abstract Art?
“Everyone wants to understand abstract art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
The very basic of enjoying any visual art is to surrender. As a viewer surrender without expecting what it is that you want from the art. Concentrate on the things what artist is trying to convey. This is difficult for both of the sides, for artist and viewer. Especially in the current age of fast everything, when there are so many distractions for viewers. The audience tends to miss a beautiful story or a piece of art, just because they are in hurry to see what is next, or what is most liked. Hence artists sometimes tend to modify. Compromise the artistic perspective and mode of presentation. Eventually for fastest consumption possible. Grabbing attention is the totally different scenario. But one thing might affect the quality of an art is grabbing attention and for things with less shelf life.
To truly understand any medium of art requires to revisit it many times. More we read a poem, more with understanding the depths, where poet whats us to take. Similarly more we stare at, even an abstract painting like Rothko, it speaks back in thousand ways. It is a commitment from both the side. A healthy love affair.
The more you try to analyse something more we could get away from the experience of experiencing. The analytical mind would obstacle. Once we drop it, we create more chances of direct connection and acceptance.
British Novelist C.S. Lewis says it so well in “Experiment in Criticism”.
“We sit down before the picture to have something done to us, not that we may do things with it. The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way (there is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you have surrendered, you cannot possibly find out.”
– C.S. Lewis
It is a personal conversation with the artist. It reflects the personality of the artist, his thought process that resulted in decisions he took during abstraction.
Abstraction and Minimalism, Can Life be derived from abstract painting? :
The very purpose of this art blog is to convey and converse about observations on patterns, interconnections between art and society. How the organisation inspires designed aspect of visual art. Hence what it gives back to the community. What difference does it make in the way of living? The real value of art lies in this understanding. This whole process of learning from art and again influencing it in artwork results into the betterment of both, the art and the world. Evolution.
Where can you apply abstraction in life? In a broader way appreciation of abstract art, an interaction with abstract painting can widely affect minimalistic life. Subtraction of what is less valuable, and keeping or enhancing what matters most. It can be a step forward to make life more comfortable, joyous and live for what you value the most. And this journey towards minimalist lifestyle may teach us the art of surrender.
And the fun part of it is that you can choose what to subtract and what to keep. Just like an artist decides while he paints. The decision made is often based on his/her self-awareness. Without imposing the burdens of third-party thoughts that we carry all the time. Moreover, it is a deliberate decision, which might come easy with time. The more you ponder on it, the more you know what is it in your life which is essential. Which relationships matter to you the most, and what materialistic things make you happy.
The process is ongoing. We will never understand whether a particular thing is significant or not until we try it. Try new things, keep what you like, and discard what you don’t. Eventually, this beautiful phenomenon based on trial and errors can teach us so many new things. It would certainly make our life easy and Joyous.