Monday, June 22, 2009

" Abstract art is the product of a confused mind"

So said an opinionated, deeply religious aunt of mine. She heard I was painting and wanted to find out what kind of art I was producing. So when I vaguely explained that it was a semi abstract kind of art, This was her retort. Well I was shocked, she hadn't even seen any of my work, so to be described as confused was extreme. I didn't say much after that. She didn't either.

It didn't change my approach to art. Which was largely intuitive and experimental. But her words stuck in my mind decades later. Maybe she was right. It has never been easy to explain or understand. You like it or you don't. It is always useful to try and get at some of the thoughts the artist perused as he worked.

Abstract art is wide ranging in style and content. Some abstract art is totally non-representational. No object is descernible. Other types of abstract art hint at objects, visible things, landscapes.

Modern art got its driving force at the turn of the 20th century. It was a new kind of thinking, it was essentially experimental, always exploring new ways, new thinking, new solutions, defying the traditional techniques. Thus no definition is absolute, except in its diversity. This is where the heated discussions and differences begin. The controversies are exposed, outlandish remarks are made, arbiters of "good taste" reject it outright, weak artist retreat to their studios, the works can gain notoriety, sometimes the artists gain a cult following, the media loves it.

Most people, on viewing modern art will say, "I don't understand this stuff!" But understanding is not what you'll find. Instead, modern art should be regarded in the same way you appreciate instrumental music, flowers, poetry, it's an appeal to the emotions, to the senses. For modern abstract art to be fully appreciated you have to drink it in, absorb it. It's an experiment to be enjoyed, or cautiously accepted or sometimes angrily rejected, as "the product of a confused mind." Such can be the effect on the senses.

What do you think? How do you feel about abstract art?

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