Thursday, October 26, 2006

Abstract Art

The abstract work of art is participatory. The artist has given the audience a gift of trust. The creator trusts the viewer’s individual perceptions. No one, creator or receiver, need say “this is This” because abstraction shows the illusion. We may look at a painting of a farm working pitching hay into a pile and say “this is farm life” or “this is hard work” or whatever. The illusion has been so complete that no one undoes the contraction to say “This is a stretch of canvas, coated with various colors of paint to represent ______.”

But in abstraction, we are uncomfortably reminded that the medium is just a messenger, not life.

We want so badly to believe our ideals and romantic notions of life that we would find a work of art using manure, straw and splinters unappealing – although it is a concrete representation of farm life than a contented farmer bathed in warm light with a gentle kitten nearby and no odor, no blisters, no fatigue or grimaces.

This is, in part, why abstraction feels so raw. It is.