“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality” – Pablo Picasso.
I like this quote. It makes me think about what abstract art actually is.
Abstract art has many sides and it can be debated until the cows come home, assuming that the cows and homes are figurative, not abstract.
What was Picasso getting at? I think he was saying that theoretically there is no such thing as abstract art because any mark you initially put down on your surface can relate to reality.
When you think about it, every shape and colour relates to something in real life, so where does the skill of abstraction come in?
REALITY FIRST, ABSTRACTION LATER
Every artist has their own way of working but from Picasso’s quote it seems logical that his abstraction came from removing reality in stages. How far from reality he went, I suppose depended on what he wanted to put across to his audience. His painting Guernica has recognisable forms so his message is visible to it’s viewers, but the images are not as they would be in real life.
TOTAL ABSTRACTION, AN EXCITING JOURNEY
Some people just don’t like abstract art and that’s fair enough, but maybe they’ve been exposed to a certain type of abstract art. Unfortunately, some ‘artists’ seem to think that just slapping paint on a canvas in a haphazard way creates abstract art. I think sometimes it can be an excuse to sell a suit of emperor’s new clothes to the public. After all, if someone famous splashes some paint on a piece of paper, signs it and says it’s abstract art, it will probably sell for more than a really well thought out and produced abstract piece by an unknown artist.
A truly well thought out piece of abstract art isn’t just a thoughtless daub on a surface. It can mean something. It can give insight into the mind of the originator. Most decent abstract artists use their work to tell a story, to speak a message, to enlighten the viewer. The journey they embark on to tell their story can be a truly rewarding one.
GIVE ABSTRACTS A CHANCE
Next time you look at a piece of abstract art, try and find out what the artist was getting at.
I like it when people ask me about my paintings because it shows they are looking for the story behind the work. What motivated me to paint it? What was I thinking of? What story am I telling?
So love it or hate it, abstract art is a talking point and an emotive subject for some. Picasso’s method was one I like to use in my own work so that as reality gradually metamorphasizes into abstraction, the realities of this sometimes unforgiving world can merge into a more dreamlike vision although carrying the same important message.
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