ABSTRACT. F G Davis. 2014

UNNAMED GOUACHE.2014 I have just watched an extremely long programme on channel 4 about “The Rules Of Abstract Art”. I thought perhaps it would teach me something I didn’t already know. It combined lots of pretentious twaddle with lots of art history which didn’t in any way define the rules its title purported to. Instead it revealed an art form which throughout its development has had countless objectives and meanings and has employed a million and one different processes in its production. The contemporary artists who took part worked in numerous ways to make abstract art, all very different, with mostly contradictory intensions and outcomes. For instance, Tess Jaray said about her tightly controlled geometric pieces (and I summarise here) that the more you can see of the way a piece is made, the less you can understand the integrity of the colour, whilst Paul Tonkin, working with dripping and free flowing colour, threw paint onto large canvasses to later cut them into smaller paintings, saying, when you make something you can’t automatically control its meaning. Their approach to colour was diametrically opposed, and I saw countless examples of abstraction in the programme which completely refuted the idea that commonly accepted “rules” of abstract art actually existed. The historic artists featured: included Klee, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich, Rothko and Pollock, all of whom worked in different ways, employing very different rules, producing different outcomes. I may have missed the point but it seemed to me to only emphasise that there are no rules that can be applied to abstract art, and that the very lack of rules is what makes it fascinating and diverse, and indeed still a relevant mode of working today.
Artists all work in different ways, in whatever form or categorisation we like to pin on their productions. For me abstraction exists, yes, but it is not significantly different from any other art form, all artists are free to find their own path and respond to the world in individual ways. That for me is what keeps the art world vibrant and full of surprises. If you watched the programme I would be interested in your impressions and thoughts.

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