What is considered abstract art? A piece of abstract art will rarely be a representation of anything worldly. Abstract art is an experience on its own that draws you to it. Using colours and shapes, it invites you to attempt to unravel a creation generated from the artist’s imagination. There are no ground rules for this, if you allow the experience to be too much of a challenge then you are on your own.
To be precise, the term ‘abstract’ means to split apart or extract an item from something or somewhere. In art this is to simplify a figure or object that has been removed from its context and have a different interpretation placed upon it. This can involve sweeping movement gestures and geometrically recognised shapes. Often there can be no discernible reference to reality.
If you see an artwork that doesn’t relate fully to a subject or doesn’t directly inform. If you see an artwork that fondly arouses your curiosity through shapes and colours that have no beginning or end and no apparent boundaries, then consider this to be abstract art.
Abstract art can be seen as a rampant escape from the disciplined clutches of tradition. Its advent could not be more of a tangent to what has gone before it. This was radical with an inherent freedom that allowed it to venture into a limitless new universe. Abstract art doesn’t seek to inform, challenge or criticise. It doesn’t deliver a message, there are no expectations placed upon us to grasp a meaning of the moment or to enter into a meaningful relationship with the subject.
Abstract art started in the early 1900s. There was, of course, resistance from the traditionalists. Art, up to this point was there to depict a scene that could be identified with. It was to represent reality, objects, people, moments in history that we can all relate to. Art was the best we could do to take a ‘snapshot’, a forerunner of modern image collection.
Right from the very beginning of the abstract era, viewers have either embraced it at first sight or rejected it completely. Some revisited and became converts. Today’s generation are much more receptive. It’s become the norm having been scrutinised and doubted. Abstract art is a survivor. It’s been put to the test and rejected the ‘black sheep’ label that many have tried to place upon it.
There are those who compare the modern abstract art with the earliest known artworks found in caves. The suggestion is that early man had an imagination that tempted them to explore and stretch through what we know as abstract art. I don’t think this was the case. It was their attempt to recreate their world around them. They were focusing on the things that mattered to them. Images of bison were an apt subject. They played a big part in their lives. They were hunted for food and their skins. The biggest challenge of all was to catch and kill. It can’t be a surprise if, maybe, a prize specimen became represented artwork on a conveniently flat area of a cave wall.
Artwork of any kind will attract attention. The question is, what do viewers see when they look? With realism art there is a subject that has a full and meaningful value that sits comfortably. The detail from the hand of the artist invites close scrutiny and you’re left in no doubt. There is a boundary in every sense. You are rarely left with questions, this is a chronicle, a reference, your opinion and relationship with it will gel with you from the first moment and will not change.
With abstract art this doesn’t happen. It can’t happen. Our first encounter cannot be an enlightened take. Our first question should be, what is it? But it isn’t. Those who have accepted that we are in a world where abstract art can be part of polite society don’t question or challenge it in any way. Why should they? The whole concept of abstract art is that it mustn’t be questioned or challenged. Don’t get into an argument with it, it comes in peace. Just take it for what it is. Let it be what you want it to be, allow it to be food for your imagination.
One of the problems that some have with abstract art is that they have a place for it but worry that those closest to them may see it as weird. The fear of judgement is one of the biggest fears of all. Selecting an artwork for a place in the home can so easily be tempered by considerations for what others may or may not like.
Be strong and decisive about this. If you allow others to influence everything you do then you run the risk of never discovering yourself let alone be and think as the person that you really are.
So what should abstract art be to you?
It can only ever be what you want it to be. Let it pull at your curiosity and feed your imagination. Question why anything, in art, needs to represent the world around you. Abstract art has been around for long enough to have a rightful place, no one needs to make excuses for it, it doesn’t need to be justified.
Understanding abstract art is easy, all it requires is an open mind and a big imagination.
Except that there is no right or wrong with abstract art. It doesn’t try to tell you what to think and that is part of the beauty of it, you are free to put whatever interpretation on it that feels right to you. Viewing abstract art can be a journey, there is a beginning but there doesn’t have to be an end and why would there need to be? Let it be yours as you look at it, it can be personal almost intense without being in any way illicit.
This whole experience isn’t easy for everyone. Some find the experience too much and can’t get near enough to gather the aurora and take the vapours. It will never be for everyone. Is it something that comes naturally? Maybe it does, I don’t consider myself to be an all-time abstract art enthusiast although I’ve developed an appreciation. This after a long time of having no interest. I guess I can say that it grows on you.
Many who come face to face with abstract art feel totally challenged. They tend to be so rigid, maybe in tradition, that they can’t either absorb and begin to connect or they just won’t make any attempt. This can bring out flippant comments along the lines of “it looks like it’s been done by a six year old on a sugar rush”.
Some have expectations when they look at art. They want it to be something that can be instantly recognise. This comes from a conditioning of believing that everything in life follows an almost exact order. It’s possible for some to become almost stressed by this.
An effective abstract artist has a full understanding of how to draw with a considerable understanding of geometry. They have an eye for arranging colours to stimulate a response from the viewer. They have the ability to draw or paint portraits and subjects of realism but they have a passionate desire to study for abstract. They like the open-ended freedom that abstract art unashamedly allows.
How to explain abstract art
Looking at any art is an experience. Where the subject is obvious it’s easy and needs no explanation. This requires little or no input from you.You won’t have to make your mind work to try and make it fit into the ordered world that we find so convenient. When we look at abstract art, it can be difficult to avoid a conflict with it. What is it? What is it supposed to be? Why can’t it be something?
Abstract art to the viewer can only be a personal experience. Don’t get into a fight with it. Let it be your friend, it doesn’t seek to conflict but it does invite. It’s there to be yours, to be what you allow it to be. It doesn’t tell you what you should think but more, what you want it to be. Relax, this is fun time, you are in charge, you can read what you want into the piece.
The Gratton art virtual gallery
The Gratton art virtual gallery is an immersive experience where you can view artworks in a gallery setting. This is beyond scrolling a page and just looking at images of art.
To take a look at the virtual gallery go to Grattonart.com, click or press on the orange spot to gain entry. When you arrive in the gallery, simply drag or swipe left, right, up or down to look around. To move to a new position click or press the orange spots on the floor.
There is an ever-increasing number of Halls to visit within the gallery. To move to another Hall take notice of the direction instructions on the walls at the gallery exit areas. Click or press on the relevant orange spot for the hall that you want to visit next. You can visit the Grattonart virtual gallery again and again.