During this pandemic I started a series that is pretty much based on creating abstract images. Which is actually not that new for me. When I made a transition from photography to painting in the mid-1980’s and to gain some understanding of the various mediums, my artwork was pretty representational. When you looked at my results, you pretty much knew what subject I was drawing and painting. I quickly transitioned into a style that was much more abstract being inspired by Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Richard Dibenkorn and the Abstract Expressionists.
So while working on this new series the question I have; is Abstract Art still relevant (versus representational) and if so, why?
A recent article in Artnet News caught my attention; “Need a New Perspective on the Future? Looking at Abstract Art can Change the Way you Think About Time…” That Researchers show that our minds perceive representational and abstract art very differently. When people look at representational art they become caught up in all of the details; such as the features on a face, the types of trees (are these rendered properly?), and the make and model of a car in the image. When confronting abstract images, since someone is not as sure as to where to look (or even what the heck they are looking at), they end up looking at everything, scanning the entire work of art seeking visual clues. “Stand before a figurative painting and your brain focuses on the details of the scene—who, what, how—as we try to configure the information into concrete meaning. But with an abstract canvas, we simply bask instead in the mood.”
“Our minds process events and objects differently depending on how psychologically distant we perceive them to be. Near-term events and ideas are riddled with logistical concerns, while distant ones conjure more expressionistic vibes.” The writer then uses a picnic as an example; for a picnic planned for tomorrow its all about the details for that picnic, but when a picnic is being planned for next summer, it is about the potential experiences of that picnic, e.g. time with family and friends.
My take away is that there is still a place for the creation of Abstract Art and it is still relevant even today. In one regard, my new abstract series is a continuation of the abstract elements that I have introduced into my Memory Pods project. I think I am also understanding a little bit better the avoidance of a title for an abstract artwork; to create further cognative distance from something that would be a description of a representational “thing” and that might limit the potential experience(s) by the viewer. cool!
Cheers & stay safe,
My other exhibitions and workshops:
The Photographers Eye’s gallery exhibition, Living and Photographing in the Time of COVID-19, group virtual exhibition that includes two of my diptychs from the series A Developing Crisis. This online exhibition is from May 8th through August 1st, 2020 (tomorrow).
Medium Photo 2020 Workshop: Developing a Creative Book workshop that I will be leading, is now rescheduled for September 24 – 27th, 2020, a four-day extended weekend workshop in San Diego.
Featured artwork; Untitled #5110, copyright 2020, Douglas Stockdale