Thursday, 4 August 2016

What exactly is the point of abstract art?

The quickest I've ever visited a museum was the modern art gallery in Washington, DC. The building was fine, beautifully crafted, as far as buildings go. It was late in the afternoon and I was cold and hungry from biking between sites all day. But that wouldn't have bothered me. I've been more distracted at different museums before visiting this place and still managed to crawl around at a useful pace. I just didn't get the gallery. You know?

Most people have my same problem when viewing non-traditional art. They don't get it. I don't think they're meeting in the same forums discussing how to synchronise their reactions to the artwork, but EVERYBODY says they don't get the artwork. But, here's the thing, I'm starting to get it. Pieces of me a breaking off every day, and things which used to be chaotic are now full of patterns.

The point of abstract art, I see, is to explore the visual world abstractly. To abstract the subject (what the artist sees, thinks, feels) by reducing a subject to its component forms (colours, contrasts, lines, shapes) and then to reproduce those forms as the interpretation dictates. For example, if I were an artist and the subject may be a bowl of fruit, I'd look at the fruit and see curves and subtle gradual shadings. So I think about curves and perhaps about the world around the fruit as curves. Or maybe I think about the world as perceived from the perspective of the bowl of fruit, which may be more sensitive to curves, finding them more comforting and natural than the rectilinear world of man. So I paint the bowl of fruit as curves and spheres and circles, integrating one into the next. Impossible sphere lit by impossible light, curves filling the canvas, a meadow of curves.

Or...

You look at the fruit and you see curves and you despise them because curves are round and supple and soft and so was she, at first, but not anymore and now nature mocks you with its softness and its curvatures. Its rolling hills and drops of rain, her big round eyes like pools of stars, and even the planet you live on and the other planets in their turn orbiting the massive star that provides warmth and life. But she stole your life and broke your heart and now this bowl of fruit, this goddamn motherfucking, cocksucking bowl of her impudent shit fruit sits there like a Buddha mocking you lush and ripe in its reds and oranges and yellows but not lush for you, no, she grew lush for the mouth and tongue of another. So you stab your brush into the palette and you mix the blues and the whites and the blacks because you know this fruit - her fruit - was rotten and fungal and sharp like her tongue and her bosom that became a pit of razor sharp shards of glass shredding you to pieces as you fell into it. And as the tears fill your eyes covering the world with rivulets of ice, you attack the canvas like she attacked you and you paint her bowl of fruit as she revealed it you - "Acute Cubic Fruit, Infected".

So, you know, abstract art is a reduction to forms, visual, intellectual, emotional and a reconstruction of the same. But what do I know? I spent perhaps 40 minutes in that damn gallery.

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