Abstract art

Attempts to define a subjective experience

Abstract art. How to formulate thoughts into words on this vast, enormous subject? How to understand enough to convey one’s findings to another human being on this journey of mine that has lasted for a lifetime, but on the other hand has just begun?

My true romance with abstract art started somewhat two decades ago. But it was only four years ago that images started to appear on canvases through my hands. I’ve explored and read tons on the subject and the more I read and do, the more I understand that I know of nothing. An analogy that applies to life itself as well. The longer you live and learn, the more you realize how big life and the universe is and a single human but a tiny fraction of dust circulating in an incomprehensible enormity. And there is nothing much you can do to make a difference. 

That said, this experience also holds a paradox. As Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” [link] A child’s world is built of of only small things that are around him. The close ones. The toys. The (hopefully) loving atmosphere. Home. This is when a child is also connected to his inner self, to his true self. As he grows up, the world starts to expand around him on an explosive speed. He has to adapt to it. The sections in the brain that manage everyday tasks, to survive as a human, are engaged. That crazy enthusiasm and love of all things surrounding disappears. Or gets lame. Gets forgotten in the demanding and devouring mist of performance. And performing better. As we are on the journey to become productive members of society we also might lose something during the process.

As Picasso also said: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” With remorseless practice we can truly learn to capture the real world in our images, draw incredibly detailed replicas of what we think we see. Describe each detail that we see with words, the language, that is the very building block of understandable logic and communication. But like a child, can we escape the suppositions of what the world that we see, consists of? What does an emotion look like? What does love look like, before it is manifested as a kiss or an embrace? And then, put it this way, what would a chair look like to you, if you did not know what it is made for?

As a great salesman knows, people do not buy things relying on knowledge they have on the subject about to be purchased. The most expensive things we buy are bought based on an emotion. When we buy a house, a home, it “just has to feel right”. The process that we undergo in this kind of situation is enormous and it consists of everything we have experienced in life so far, preconceptions of what we think will be right in the future, our deepest values that are present. And yet, the decision we make in such a situation can only be sliced down in human language as “feeling right”. Emotions and deep processes within self escape language, there is so much to human that we can never capture with words. But there just might be a possibility that these things can be painted or drawn.

The concept of this possibility has enticed me to start to study the subject with passion. I took Picasso’s words to my heart. And as I’m writing this, you also might realize that I’m on an impossible mission to try and interpret something perceivable only through non-linguistic means, into a human language. The foremost driving force deep inside us, that cannot be caught with words to be interpreted. Something, as I stated above, cannot be done. At least with scientific accuracy.

Hence, my true apologies to you, dear reader, if the words that are about to follow are not academically valid or do not resonate with theories that have proven to be true on some scales known to literature or studies as of this day. I am not trying to give answers, but trying to approach the subject humbly with my own limited perception. 

Who owns reality? – Limits of perception

Electromagnetic spectrum. As energy.gov puts it: “The entire rainbow of radiation observable to the human eye only makes up a tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum – about 0.0035 percent. This range of wavelengths is known as visible light.” [link]

The rest of the universe, or even the world before our very eyes is a mystery. And will remain that. Yet, we (or the marketing departments of companies that benefit from scientific experiments) claim to know the most of it. How can we define what is real, when we actually know that we only can catch a glimpse of what’s really happening around us? What is real?

Plato, a greek philosopher presented a similar kind of idea of the truth we’re royally missing somewhere during 500 BC: 

“The Allegory of the Cave, or Plato’s Cave, is an allegory presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work Republic (514a–520a) to compare ”the effect of education (παιδεία) and the lack of it on our nature”. It is written as a dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates, narrated by the latter. The allegory is presented after the analogy of the sun (508b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–511e).

In the allegory ”The Cave,” Plato describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality, but are not accurate representations of the real world. The shadows represent the fragment of reality that we can normally perceive through our senses, while the objects under the sun represent the true forms of objects that we can only perceive through reason.” [link] 

And there you have it. What we think is real according to Plato? A mere hunch of the world that is screened before us, the rest is built upon our imagination.

So here’s my love to you, dear reader. Let’s imagine together. Let’s build real.

But how it all came to be? What were the historical steps needed to be taken, so that the world unfolds before us as it does today?

History of Abstract Art

Briefly put, abstract art is a form of art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect. It is a way of expressing a modified view of the world that is not based on any particular object or scene. Abstract art has been around for centuries, but it was not until the early 20th century that it began to gain widespread recognition. Let’s explore the history of abstract art and its evolution over time.

Origins of Abstract Art

The roots of abstract art can be traced back to the late 19th century, when artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee began to experiment with non-representational forms of art. Kandinsky was particularly influential in the development of abstract art, as he believed that art should be an expression of the artist’s inner feelings and emotions, rather than a representation of the physical world.

Kandinsky’s work was followed by other artists such as Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, who further developed the concept of abstract art. Mondrian’s work was particularly influential, as he developed a style of painting known as “neoplasticism”, which focused on the use of geometric shapes and primary colours to create a sense of harmony and balance. Malevich, on the other hand, developed a style of painting known as “suprematism”, which focused on the use of simple geometric shapes to create a sense of order and structure.

The Rise of Abstract Art

The early 20th century saw a surge in the popularity of abstract art, as it began to be embraced by the avant-garde art scene. Artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso began to experiment with abstract forms, and their work was widely exhibited in galleries and museums around the world.

The rise of abstract art was also aided by the development of new technologies such as photography and film, which allowed artists to explore new ways of representing the world. This led to the emergence of new movements such as cubism, surrealism and futurism, which all embraced abstract forms of art.

Abstract Art in the Modern Era

Abstract art has continued to evolve and develop in the modern era, as artists have explored new ways of expressing their ideas. Abstract expressionism, for example, is a movement that emerged in the 1940s and 1950s, and it focused on the use of gestural marks and expressive brushstrokes to create a sense of emotion and energy.

In the 1960s and 1970s, a new form of abstract art known as minimalism emerged, which focused on the use of simple geometric shapes and primary colours to create a sense of order and structure. This style of art was particularly influential, as it was embraced by a wide range of artists, from painters to sculptors.

Conclusion

Abstract art has been around for centuries, but it was not until the early 20th century that it began to gain widespread recognition. Since then, it has continued to evolve and develop, as artists have explored new ways of expressing their ideas. From Wassily Kandinsky’s non-representational forms to Marcel Duchamp’s cubism and Pablo Picasso’s surrealism, abstract art has become an integral part of the art world. Today, it is still a popular form of expression, as it allows artists to explore their inner feelings and emotions in a unique and creative way.

So, let’s give love to the masters that shaped the artworld for good. They have given us a powerful tool to express ourselves and communicate in a way that never was possible before that.

Explore abstract art and you will explore a deep core of humanity.

I will keep updating this page, as my journey continues. Please visit again to join me 🙂