As an art professional, the most asked question by far is “…but what does it mean…what is it?” This is especially true in abstract art, Abstract Expressionism in particular.
There are many reasons why we create art: to tell a story, for decoration, to capture a moment in time or to express an idea. I feel there is a much more powerful and hard to define reason to create art and to have art around us…the intangible need to reach inside ourselves and into our subconscious.
Great abstract art gives us a way to get in touch with our subconscious…free of any preconceived notions. The process is fully intuitive and individual. A wonderful piece of abstract art will resonate individually. Some factors in how we perceive abstract art are: its compositions, its colors, its technique, its scale and its context….most of the time we don’t realize we are making these evaluations!
The first reason abstract art is so powerful is that it keeps conscious distractions to a minimum…nothing to relate it to because there are no references to anything representational. You, as the viewer have a singular job, to clear your conscious mind of any preconceptions and to let yourself to be influenced solely by what you are seeing and feeling. The viewer must be willing to let themselves go and “feel” the art for themselves. To view the art on an emotional level.
Secondly, I have found through years of experience and observation, a very singular truth about the allure and excitement of abstract art: the ability of abstract art to capture and hold your imagination and interest over the long run. An abstract…because it is not fully understood, will always bring you back into the art. You mind will never fully understand or be able to assign “meaning” to it…therefore your mind will always be intrigued to come back for another look…and it will surely be excited by something new in it. A new color, a new line, a new gesture, a new texture. Imagine…a new and unique painting each and every time it is viewed…never the same way twice because it is totally influenced by your own personal state of the subconscious. Powerful stuff!
It is natural to place abstract art where visual excitement is important. It stimulates the mind and gives each viewer an individualized and personal experience each and every time. Abstract art never grows old or tired, how could it?…your subconscious is seeing it uniquely.
So, what does abstract art mean? The advice I always give is to look with your mind, feel with your heart and let it take you on an artful, exhilarating and always unique ride through your subconscious!
Malton Art Gallery
Excellent article Sylvia!