Between various space-time continuum…
ABSTRACTION – THE MOST AUTONOMOUS OF ARTS
Abstract paintings are as old as art itself, they can be found in prehistoric caves. Though, until the 19th century, abstract painting failed to manifest itself in the form of actual paintings; on the contrary, it was usually restricted to specific decorations of ornament type or non-figurative ornamentation. It wasn’t until the past century that abstraction has caught particular attention: in mathematics, logics, theoretical physics, semiotics, but it was art that was behind the fact that the 20th century can be called the age of abstraction.
Since the very beginning of the century, abstraction in painting became one of the leading experiments; it was boosted by all progressive trends and between the wave of the first and the second avant-garde it didn’t disappear at all but developed independently of the fashion trends that kept sweeping through Europe, it moved to America and shone in every novelty-seeking part of the globe. In theory, there was nothing simpler; since the final decades of the 19th century, painters who sought full liberty of art were eager to call on music, their desire was to speak using color just the way the composers used sounds, they didn’t want to reproduce world anymore, but to express their souls directly. Moving away from mimesis, perspective, rigid rules took stages, representations of reality kept transforming from closer to further ones, blurring contours of the object every step of the way; for quite some time, they circulated around narrow verge of realism and in the 20th century, all innovatory and extravagant trends aimed at escaping from the realistic view of the world one or another way.
Nevertheless, wherever it appeared, abstraction turned out to be particularly difficult art; wherever firm rules fail to be in force and art has no restrictions nor limits, one simply doesn’t know how and where to start. And in the meantime, it was necessary to fight not only for new way of perceiving and presenting, but generally for the new sense of the painting. Therefore, abstraction required special talents, special way of thinking, imagination other than mimesis, open mind and heart and mainly courage.
It seems that all sort of potential attitudes manifested in painting abstraction and it took all sort of possible shapes; intellectual and emotional abstraction, geometrical and organic, abstraction of colorful fields and informalism. The characteristic and rare thing is that intellectualism does not rule out emotions and sensuality, just as formalism doesn’t rule out experience. Yet, after the period of boom and euphoria, it turned out (seemingly though) that all paths have been exhausted. What else is there left to be invented? Which way do the undiscovered traces take us? Maybe it’s necessary to wait for a special kind of genius, who will discover the unseen directions? I personally believe in abstraction and I’m convinced that it hasn’t said the last word yet, but generally it’s closer to the start than to the end. The future of art belongs to abstraction. After all the fatigue that came, and rightly so, after painting all the same fruits and vases, landscapes and vedutas, animals and people, after the shallows to which art was led because of not really very prolific experiments, abstraction keeps on proving that it is pure, direct, honest, free and insightful art. And presently – being at its best – still the most ambitious. Yes, but how to paint it purely, directly, honestly, freely and insightfully? And on top of that – unpretentiously, individually, stylishly and convincingly? Well, that’s another story.
In a way, abstraction backed itself into the corner. It wished to show what’s inside the artist’s soul, but it painted triangles and squares. It desired to show the soul of the painter, instead it just spread various splashes on the canvass. It aimed at painting internal feelings and dilemmas, instead it flooded surface with tones of paint. Where are all those promises, those internal depths? – the audience could rightly ask. How to explain the audience that in abstraction, an author is solving problems that matter the most to him/her? Problems of technique, composition, form, color compositions, shape and formlessness, simplification and synthesis, pure expression and energy? How to convince the viewers that those are exactly the artist’s most important problems? How to explain this, since this field, subject and emotion is completely foreign and incomprehensible to those, who are not experiencing it, those who don’t paint?
Finally, at the end of the 20th century, painting, or maybe all art understood that without extended interpretation guided towards philosophy, anthropology or literature it’s more and more difficult to reach any audience. Today, not many people care about mimesis, resemblance, correct perspective or even aestheticization. Viewer is interested in the author’s mentality, his beliefs, personality, attitude towards events beyond art. Also abstraction reached the point, in which you need to establish brotherly bonds with the meaning coming from beyond the painting world, with semantic sense, with interpretation of the world, with any suggested content, so that the person viewing the painting can get the gist of something. Though, if abstraction can reach for those measures, it will cease being an abstraction. And this is the main problem of this wonderful idea.
During the past decades, part of the quest for the new sense of art, it became popular to explain modern works using very sophisticated language, most often with the help of meanders of bogus philosophy. It’s hard to like it, many artists are trying to make us believe that with just a couple of lines and splashes of paint they are trying to solve the essence of all things. However, you have to avoid generalization in such opinions, this thing is too serious. Everyone, who wishes to engage in modern art, must learn how to distinguish truth and pretense; here intuition can be a great help. If we like a painting, we need to find our own interpretation thereof. If we fail at that, we have to believe in the artist’s explanation and check if the work speaks to us in such case. And if it does – we need to believe. Then, it will turn out that artists often open their souls to us giving those explanations. And this is something truly precious. If there’s anything that attracts us when we look at an abstract painting, if the author’s explanation 6 gets through to us, we are on the path to a full understanding of the work of art.
With the abstract painting, the explaining of the sense behind the work must be done with particular sophistication. Yes, in order to avoid destroying abstraction, to stop from talking too much, to stay in the most generic zone possible, to refrain from tangling in any specific details, to catch the problem and not example thereof. A good abstract painting is a painting that we like without any hints, but at the same time, no hint can harm it. Generally, we must learn to abstract view from interpretation. On the other hand, painting and interpretation compose a certain whole. And the choice is ours; we may decide that this whole can or cannot be divided. If it cannot be divided – we are dealing with an incomplete abstraction, that is the one that requires clarifications, because without them it will be empty for us. We name it an incomplete abstraction or, even better, borderline abstraction.
Today, in the time of systematic clarification of works of art, borderline abstraction seems to be the most common. We could say that almost all works in this exhibition qualify as such. Every artist here is debating and contemplating abstraction-related problems in their own way, yet, there’s something they have in common: the idea beyond art – how to present the world in a medium that is most difficult, most detached from the real world. Painting is offering everybody just impersonal canvass, brushes and paints, other than that, the artist must do his best, the artist must find it in his own soul. There’s no mapping of the world, one needs to develop one’s own construction and explanation of the world.
Color and light are the most important things for me. At the essence of my paintings are the interactions between the individual colors, their hues and half-tones. I am mostly interested in the things created at their interface, at the meeting point of warm and cold, bright and saturated, smooth and rough surfaces. On those pulsating verges, energy is released, thereafter filling the whole painting. Similarly with the texture, what is important is what arises at the boundary of smoother surfaces and rougher surfaces. I experiment with color, while composition has a complementaryfunction, calming in a way those colorful surfaces. I try not to strip the painting of the little contradictions and contrasts, but as a whole, I provide it with moderate, harmonious character.
The composition is created in a conscious way, but the color is intuitive and undergoes many changes during the painting process. Successive layers of thick paint create a frame for the composition. The earlier layers of paint can be seen through the latest ones, creating a glimmering effect, the hue and brightness flickering. Such treatments as making colors blend ones into others or juxtaposing monochromatic fields serve to intensify the colors, and, at the same time, to take break the static geometry of the image.
My painting has evolved from the landscape and continues to echo nature’s observations. Paintings are usually zone based. Just as in nature, various areas meet, air meets water or ground. When painting, I think of landscape, but later, I don’t find any specific places on my paintings, any situations that occurred, it is not a literal translation. It’s more about impressions – the way I sense the landscape and the moment. I have impressionistic inclinations, indeed, even though at first glance it may not be so noticeable in my paintings, since they are abstract after all. What fascinates me most is the energy that colours emit.
A painting is a result of experience that is not only visual but also, and not limited to, sensual. I try to touch metaphysical dimension of color and light. I am interested in non-material, non-object-related character of the occurrence of color. The language of abstraction seems the most appropriate.