Abstract art can be a very powerful visual language of expression. It gives you the freedom to explore the artwork and assign your own interpretation of the artwork. It really personalises the viewer’s own perception and feelings you get from the artwork as abstract art is open to interpretation.
There is significant evidence to suggest that we respond more positively to art based on how we experience it individually. This is one of the beautiful things about abstract art.
Breaking All The Rules
Abstract art purposely breaks all the rules of what we have been taught to believe is good art. And that is precisely what I find extremely attractive. It is the ultimate freedom of expression – no rules, no restrictions and no limitation.
As an abstract painter, I believe it is a universal language that does not necessarily need to use words (mostly) to express itself. It really attempts to communicate with our feelings much more than our logical minds.
This is one of the difficulties many people experience when looking at abstract paintings as they will keep on trying to relate it to something recognisable. Abstract painting, particularly non-representational art is about everything, except the familiar.
A lot of people when they see abstract painting think “it could be done by a 5-year old”. Try it. I tried many times to copy other abstract paintings and I was nowhere close.
There are many abstract painters who do not, in fact, start off painting abstract. It is a well known practice that many start off learning traditional art and they learn the rules of creating masterpieces. But then somehow, they decide to change the style of their art and break the rules – the rules of composition, perspective, proportions, narration, etc., leading to creating abstract art.
“Learn the Rules Like a Pro, So You Can Break Them Like an Artist” – Pablo Picasso.
Our lives are full of rules, the dos and don’ts and it is absolutely fabulous to be able to do, at least, one activity without rules, restrictions and limitations. Just free.
Why Do We Create Abstract Art?
I’m not keen on discussing “understanding” abstract art, in this article, as it can be a difficult subject and there are many views about it. One of the views, for example, is to see the artwork from the perspective of the artist, which I believe that: a) it can be very hard for the normal ordinary viewer to go deeper into that subject, and b) it isn’t necessary to try to simply enjoy the piece of artwork as it is.
The beauty of abstract art, particularly non-representational, is that it can be whatever the viewer wants it to be. Remember no roles, no restrictions, no limitations.
There are many different reasons we create abstract art, including the following:
- I create abstract paintings simply because of the joy of the “ultimate freedom” of expression that I find in the entire process. I apply “no rules”, “no restrictions” and “no limitation”.
- The joy of expressing ideas, thoughts and emotions.
- To evoke emotions and communicate visually with other people.
- It is extremely exciting yet very challenging to create an abstract non-representational painting that is not depicted from the real world.
- The painting is created using several elements of colours, lines, forms, texture, etc. Each element has a fantastic influence on our feelings and collectively they should all compose complete balance, harmony and rhythm.
- People create abstract art because it’s beautiful, great fun and exciting.
- It is a fantastic way to release stress and improve mental wellbeing.
The ability to create without reference, representation or depiction from the real world is extremely challenging, if not impossible. This is the main reason that I find non-representational painting extremely fascinating. But I still think creating anything that is not depicted from the real world is not possible.
Let’s take a minute and think about it. “Creating something from nothing”. Is that possible?
My Journey with Art
It all began when I was a child intrigued by colours, lines and shapes – painting watercolour figurative art and landscapes. I was fascinated by colour values, shades and shadows. The contrast between black and white. Some of my teachers noticed my paintings and placed some of them in the school.
Later, I became fascinated with photography and developing my own photos. But it wasn’t challenging enough and I became less interested in the introduction of digital photography and photo editing.
I was still following the rules. But, somehow I began to notice abstract painting and what it meant – “freedom”, no rules. It came to me as natural as my early childhood painting watercolours. (A bit more about me).
Mainly, I use oil and acrylic paints and I spend most of my spare time creating non-representational abstract paintings that are not depicted from the real world. “Not depicted from the real world” remains questionable, in my opinion.
I find painting with music helps me tremendously to connect with the painting process. I usually put my earphone on and really just “let go” not thinking about anything and to a great degree disconnected from the world around me. This exercise became part of the actual painting process and without my music, it is actually a different painting process as I do not feel totally engaged with the painting.
It always feels like somebody has “turned the lights on” and it just happens.
The Beauty of Abstract Art
“Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes… Abstract art enables the artists to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas”. – Arshile Gorky.
I firmly believe that art in general, but particularly abstract art, always attempts to communicate with our emotions and feelings rather than our logical mind.
Abstract art is even more challenging as it is all about the “unfamiliar” but as human beings, we need to interpret everything we come across in our life to the “familiar”.
Abstract art is known to make people feel uncomfortable because they do not automatically know what the art is “about” just by a quick glance. Perhaps, even assume that because it does not look familiar or recognisable, then it is not “about” anything, therefore, there is nothing to grasp or hold our attention.
This can be very confusing or may even feel threatening to some who are not used to making up their own meaning to what they see in front of them.
Most of the art industry professionals must involve interpreting the artist’s background, his/her culture, his/her present and past, etc whenever they view abstract art. But for the general viewer, you do not want to be influenced by all this information at the beginning.
You want to feel if the artwork draws you into it without any other potential influence. Just you and the artwork. Just let go of any thought process. Switch off your logical mind.
Remember, art is the language of feelings.
Something else to realise about abstract art. We expect to connect with the artwork quickly, but we do not allow ourselves enough time to sit actually see it and absorb it. It takes time to absorb the emotion behind a work of abstract art.
According to the Slow Art Movement, which is popular worldwide, museum visitors often move through museums quickly between artworks. The average being 17 seconds looking at an individual artwork – resulting in missing a lot of the artworks at the museum.
The appreciation of beauty in artworks depends to a large extent on personal experience and cultural norms.
The beauty of abstract art can be limitless and timeless. There are no boundaries for the viewer to connect with the artwork. We don’t necessarily need to be restricted with traditional rules and techniques of painting. It is non-representational, it isn’t about anything that can be depicted from the real world, but it is about everything that the viewer wants it to be. How fantastic is that?
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle.
Why Do I Paint
I have been creating non-representational paintings for many years and I am still amazed by the magic of paint splatter here and there and the indescribable world it creates for me in return. Words cannot describe such a reward. It happens every time and that’s why I paint.
I have read several studies about what do people find in non-representational art and there are many great studies and theories, but nothing is conclusive. Again, that is part of the beauty of this type of art – it is so unique.
To truly experience the power of non-representational art, you have to “let go”.
The questions I ask. To enjoy something:
Does everything have to have a meaning?
Does everything have to be interpreted to something I recognise?
Must I understand how and why it was made?
That’s a lot of hard work for simple life enjoyment.
The Language of Feelings
Our emotions and feelings hold great information about us individually and about how we individually see the world. Particularly how we interpret our own individual world and how it fits (or doesn’t) in the bigger world.
To truly understand that fact, it can reveal fascinating and creative solutions to almost any situation. What then is beauty? Beauty is the affect and emotion we may receive from the artwork. It is the connection and communication with the emotions and feelings that the artwork evokes.
Emotions and feelings, positive or negative, hold a tremendous amount of energy. We all have been in situations when we repress or blindly express them.
The feeling of fear, anger, jealousy, grief, etc, produces great amounts of negative charges in the mind, which in turn can reflect on the health of the body, as well.
The same would apply to the feeling of joy, happiness fulfilment – these are the positive changes that we all seek to achieve and maintain at all times.
Art is one of the direct ways that can allow us to directly access and touch our innermost deepest parts of ourselves that directly influence the creation of our emotions and feelings.
This journey of discovery of your inner emotions and feelings is half the battle. This is the journey of self-understanding.
The other important half is how you actually deal with it? The journey to ultimate freedom…
Professional art therapists are well aware of the powers of the language of emotions and feelings through art and art activities.
Throughout our life, most of us are not taught how to deal with difficult emotions and feelings. It isn’t easy.
Despite the fantastic achievements humans have made, most of us are still emotionally underdeveloped.
Abstract art isn’t for everyone. But it is definitely for anyone who can read its language.
It’s all about self-discovery and self-exploration.