Week 3: Research on Abstract Art / by Valzorra

According to Google Dictionary, the definition of the word “Abstract“ is “Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.” Therefore, Abstract Art would be art that does not represent concrete visual reality or existing objects, but rather uses other methodologies to achieve its effect. Some of the numerous tools at the disposal of abstract artists include manipulation of composition, of colour, geometric shapes, texture, layering of paint, the process of applying the paint, its specific pigments, consistencies, and more. All of these physical tools and processes are used to convey higher meaning, to help the audience get a greater understanding of themselves and the ideas conveyed. Abstraction explores that which may not be seen, it represents ideas, emotions, metaphors. It tackles the invisible, it takes complex concepts and makes them visual. Additionally, abstract art places emphasis on the viewer and is highly dependant on their vision of the work, allowing for dozens of different viewpoints and possible meanings behind a single piece. Abstract Art and Poetry are similar in that they are more about what can be interpreted, contextualised, and analysed, rather than what is literally represented on the page or canvas. There are numerous notable styles and artists who have turned the entire art world on its head, however, I will go into greater detail about the ones I personally find most fascinating.

Olafur Eliasson, the Tetrahedral Light, 2017

Olafur Eliasson, the Tetrahedral Light, 2017

Cubism

Cubism deconstruct visual reality into basic geometric figures and outlines, unveiling infinite possibilities for representation. Cubism abstracts objects, it breaks them apart to their fundamental components, and oftentimes reassembles them to reveal a twisted version of what once was. The movement explores how far you can deconstruct an object until it is no longer that same object, how much the shapes can be changed, and how that affects their form. Oftentimes, there would be a transition between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space through the careful arrangement and realignment of the difference planes and faces. In a way, Cubists aimed to show different viewpoints of the same piece at the same time. Although they both share these common characteristics, there are two distinct styles of cubism:

  1. Analytical Cubism - These are the very early days of Cubism, from about 1908 to 1912, when the works were mostly fragmentary in nature and were especially focused on the representation of multiple viewpoints in the same work.

  2. Synthetic Cubism - Synthetic Cubism is characterised by the inclusion of real world objects into the art pieces and the merging of visual reality and the reality of the work. Synthetic Cubism tends to feature brighter colours and simpler shapes.

The idea of deconstructing objects, of taking their individual planes, colliding them together, and making all viewpoints visible is absolutely fascinating to me. It’s a way to take three-dimensional shapes and objects and make all of their sides visible on the same place. Additionally, adding physical and collage elements to works makes them transcend the canvas and enter the space of reality. These works contain actual real-world objects that have been twisted and perverted until they are no longer themselves, all in the name of conveying an idea, emotion, a message. The shifts between dimensions, transcending realities, all focused in the artwork.

Bottle and Fishes, 1910-1912, Georges Braque

Bottle and Fishes, 1910-1912, Georges Braque

Juan Gris, The Sunblind, 1914

Juan Gris, The Sunblind, 1914

M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher’s work is absolutely fascinating to me as it completely breaks down any sort of borders between mathematics and artistic endeavour. He is famous for his extreme precision, accuracy, technical capability, and incorporation of fantastical elements. His manipulation of perspective, his seamless transition between dimensions, his impossible architectural constructions and optical illusions, all made without the assistance of modern digital technology, are a testament to his undeniable skill and extensive knowledge of construction and artistic principles. M.C. Escher’s work represents complex and abstract concepts such as infinity, dimension, and tessellations. He manages to represent that which cannot necessarily be seen by humans and gives his own interpretation on the invisible, the impossible. However, Escher was not exclusively interested in representations of the invisible and mathematical concepts and principles, he also represented existentialist ideas, as illustrates by one of his most famous pieces “Ascending and Descending“ which represents the notion of a a staircase going nowhere.

Ascending and Descending, 1960, M.C. Escher

Ascending and Descending, 1960, M.C. Escher