The Art of Understanding Abstract

Written By Aadhithyan



Abstract, strictly speaking, means to withdraw something from something else. When applied to art, which is based on the object's shape, orientation and figures it brings out a new form of art that has created a major revolution. Abstract art is a visual language that uses simpler geometric shapes or gestural marks deviating from the actual representation of the complex world around us. It is unbelievable but true that abstraction developed together in time with realism.


You may call it ’Art for the sake of art’. Abstract art does not capture it as it is but, it is purely based on the form of art involved in the creation of beauty through shape and color, meant to please the visual sense of the audience. Plato quotes, 'the highest form of beauty lies not in the form of the real world but in geometry' making it a clever idea of abstract art, not to represent the material world but the spiritual.

It was in the late 19th century, where artistic independence was in advance. Finding its roots in intuition, freedom, imagination, and emotion. Abstract art forces us to look beyond what we see.


But does Abstract art even convey?

Does it carry a message all the time?


These are the questions that pop out of our minds every time we look at abstract art. Usually, abstract art is the translation of the artist's intangible emotion onto the canvas, but not all times. Sometimes abstract art is just made for the sake of doing to please the viewer.


With striking colors, bold strokes, and dense textures with drips and dynamics the abstract works don't simply convey but provoke emotional experience. These emotional experiences will never be the same, so it is left to the viewers to decide what they want to see.


It is easy to appreciate Gustave for his mastery of the skill. But, to appreciate and criticize abstraction, our focus must be on; how well a piece is evoking emotions. The psychology and symbolism of color and the shape determines the value of the successful work. The color Red can represent boldness at the same time strain. The bold stroke of white can represent peace as well as division. That provides the artist freedom to express his emotion with any color, shape, or texture.


Let the paintings talk to you. Jackson Pollock said “Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you.” let the paintings ask you the question. Forget how the artist must have felt; rather, ask yourself how you feel. Observe the piece and let it talk to you. Art is subjective. Sometimes there are pieces that we cannot just connect to, especially when it comes to abstraction. It doesn't matter if art has a context to it, and it is not necessary for you to understand or feel the emotions it meant to convey. If it does nothing to you, so be it.


Art is made for a wide range of audience, but it does not speak to everyone, let it talk to you. It requires a way of “seeing” abstract art. Out of ignorance, most people shun to understand. When it comes to abstract art, the artist never outrightly conveys but indulges you into the art, making you feel similarly letting you build with your imagination to create a world with your emotion. Thus it is left for you to decide what you see.

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