I am still trying to make sense of Malevich. His book, commented on in an earlier posting, published in English in 1959, but dating much earlier, still feels fresh and insightful and I continue to be taken by his approach to ‘treating’ realist painters, by prescribing the medicine of Cubism. Some artist friends say that they can’t see anything but a tree when they see a tree, while I not only know that it isn’t really real (thinking as a physicist), but that it is really colourless, to the extent that the light bouncing off it does depend on specific types of sensors to ‘see’ the colours themselves. One only needs to put a deep red filter over a digital camera lens to learn that hampered in this way, digital camera sensors pick up the infrared end of the spectrum. Lie on the ground, and look up at the tree through a camera so equiped, and voila, gone is the green and gone is the “tree”.
I was thinking of the notion of the “abstract imagination”, when perhaps I should be thinking of the “realist imagination” to the extent that what we see is a fabrication, while what we imagine is directly constructed by our mind.
To that extent, then, abstract works really must be completed by the viewer, in a dynamic relationship between two worlds, the artist and the viewer, as their minds overlap through the work. The problem for many abstract works is that the viewer is unable to complete the work, it remains senseless either on the canvas or sitting on the floor, requiring interpretation by a third party (suitably qualified of course at such matters and usually suitably incomprehensible terminology).
Such works are silent, but not brooding, merely vacuous. A bit like reality.