The violence of abstraction

Abstraction for me is a liberation from the strictures that exist throughout our lives as lived.

Many people take art classes and when looking the what they have done, feel

By the end of the art class, the art ‘thing’ is done, but it isn’t quite right and like the hamster on the wheel, we keep taking more classes hoping the next one will be different. But they aren’t; the paintings feel lifeless, what I call mute. The flower in the vase died as soon as it was painted, and lives on only in the imagination, but is definitely not on the canvas!

Studies show that people spend less than 15 seconds looking at a painting, half of that time spent reading the label, so how can a painting take on agency in the real world?

Einstein’s theory of relativity led Picasso to Cubism. He came to understand that the world was not as we see it, but could be seen from a variety of perspectives.

We must always be mindful that there is art and there is ‘art’. When the ‘official’ art community has spoken, we are viewing curated art, designed and developed for consumption and is determined arbiters of taste. What will they choose for next year? Perhaps flowers will be in fashion….

Have a read of Michael Findlay, Value of Art). It is worth noting that when curators speak of ’emergent artists’ they mean younger artistbecause, perhaps cynically, there are more selling years with younger artists. Yet, true creativity is not dependent on being a certain age. The Carter Burden Gallery in New York is an exception by showing the work of older and late blooming artists.

As I like to think I paint in the tradition laid down by the abstract expressionists, keep in mind all those invisible painters who were ignored in those early days, in particular the many women abstract expressionists, but they were in effect written out of art history. Get a copy of “Women of Abstract Expressionism” (Yale/Denver Art Museum, 2016).

There is much still to draw from the well of abstract expressionism, and for many later blooming artists, comfortable with history, they are offering fresh ways to see. I hope some of paintings achieve even a small place in that tradition.

Creativity is powerful and dangerous. It has energy, indeed violence and is a force of nature.

Creativity does not like to be contained.

Fearing what others may think of our work also means that we are afraid of what we may create, of how potentially violent our inner creative energies may be. What might come ‘out’?

Picasso said: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”.