ABSTRACT PAINTING : Freedom From Reality

Gallop of horses DevileuxCC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

The final painting of an abstract artist 
is not a painting of the object per se. 
But it is an individual interpretation 
the artist has done about the size and 
colour of the object.

Art is the medium of expressing freedom. The abstract artists paint objects ignoring their real shapes; they make colours a central issue, in a sense, the colours are allowed to act independently. These artists would use a technique, depicting forms and a combination of colours that hardly exist in the real world. These artists provoke the viewer's response without using conventional forms.

Every painting or an art-piece is an artistic attempt at visual communication. An artist desires to reveal the imagination he or she has in mind. The artist would use the essential characteristics of colours like contrast and Harmony. Putting movement in the shapes, an artist would try infusing liveliness into the painting, allowing the colours to carry much rebel and independence. While painting, the abstract artist uses all of these tools of the trade. He or she takes the help of different forms and colours for recreating the imagination on the canvas.

Art of Georgia O'Keeffe:  Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) is known as the mother of American modern art. She painted ordinary articles like flowers, bones, and rocks; but it was her style that injected an element of abstraction into the paintings. She explored the expressive properties of the two most crucial elements of painting, the light and colours. That very element made her paintings so beautiful. She artistically synthesized the shapes in a well-delineated manner. With her moving spirit, she could do it within a short period what the others would have taken years to accomplish. 

Painting Style of Georgia O'Keeffe:     Georgia’s artistic career spanned more than seventy years. That was the era of shifting styles of art in Europe and other parts of the world. But Georgia maintained consistency in her art. She never stopped revealing the intrinsic value of colours and objects. She would observe an object with her cultivated vision. Then her delicate and nice mannered brush would record each and every nuance of the colours.

 Georgia O'Keeffe during her time
at the 
University of Virginia 1915

Rufus W. Holsinger (1866–1930),
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the above painting, we can see how she had achieved the level of abstract representation of colours. It is amazing to see how she has painted the inner-self, the soul of the colours blue and green. Every inch of the frame is painted with the perfection of a sculpture. The different shades of green and blue are revealed at their maximum potential. We can feel the dance of the colours on canvas. That is why the painting is rightly titled “Blue and Green Music”. This painting was done in the year 1921.

Georgia had done many landscapes, which were the artistic record of her observation of the environment and places she lived in. While painting these landscapes, she would capture the vivid colours spread on the earth and the clarity of light falling on the objects painted. She remained fully occupied in painting the scenes of New Mexico where she mostly lived in the late years of her life.

An abstract artist might not miss the pictorial element in a painting, but he or she depicts the aspect independent of reference you would find in the surrounding. Though they would depart completely or partially from the real imagery of actual objects, the freedom the abstract artists experience make them more courageous. In America the Abstract Artists group was established in 1936; till then the abstract art was viewed with critical opposition. There was little support from art galleries, too.

Art of Abstract Painting   The art movements of romanticism, impressionism and expressionism have greatly affected and positively contributed to the development of abstract art of painting. The master painters who practised mainly the postmodernism style of painting were Paul Gauguin, George Seurat, Paul Cezanne and Van Gogh, they had a very big pool of follower artists. The paintings and the styles of these painters have an enormous effect on the art of abstract painting.

While holding the palate of bright and cool colours in hand, the abstract painter wanders with imagination. Here an artist tries simplifying the object to paint. While doing so he would simply exaggerate the size of the object to be painted. He might reshape the form in such a way that it would make it almost impossible for the viewers to identify it without the help of a person who knows about the art of abstract painting. Freedom is the word an artist feels while applying the shades and hues of paints. And he or she emits that freedom through the language of brushstrokes and colours. These are the artists who let their artistic prowess to fly in a limitless sky and descend on an incredible piece of art.

The final painting of an abstract artist is not a painting of the object per se. But it is an individual interpretation the artist has done about the size and colour of the object. While looking at an abstract painting, the viewers do not see the objects or real scene. They see the interpretation of an artist that has been transferred on canvass.

Sammy Davis Junior Oil Painting 1980
Dagmar AndersCC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

The word ‘abstract’ literally means ‘to consider as a general quality or characteristic apart from specific objects or instances. The artist who paints the abstract paintings does the same. These abstract artists, while standing before a blank canvas, think apart from the concrete reality of an object they are going to paint.

Each artist has different views of the world. Instead of considering the physical appearance of objects, the abstract artists emphasize lines, colours and geometrical forms of the objects. While dealing with the interrelationship of these aspects, an abstract painter keeps exploring until he or she succeeds in extracting the characteristics of a particular subject. For example, these artists would investigate the objects regarding several core issues, say the anger or joy embedded within the face of a man or a woman. The artworks of abstract artists are called ‘non-representational art’, too. It is because while working under this style of painting, an artist turns more adventurous in using colours and lines, defining the shapes of objects differently.

The subjects of painting in an abstract style of painting remain the same as in the other styles. Abstract artists chose subjects like still life, landscapes and figures, buildings and flowers. But here the artists create difference while interpreting these subjects in the relationship of their colours and shapes. In the case of using media, there is no difference. Abstractionists use all the means available in the field of art of painting, like watercolour, oil, pastel, gouache acrylic and collage.

After using all the techniques in the above forms and manners, the abstractionist creates a delightful world through the stunning images they conceive in their minds and transliterate on canvases. In the above paintings, the German-Austrian artist Dagmar Anders has tried depicting the inner characteristics of a man. Here the colours scheme applied and the bold strokes and lines painted tell much about the nature of the person so portrayed. 

It was the last days of the nineteenth century. The days of great artists like Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and Cezanne were almost ended. But as half of the earth always remains lighted, in another part of the world it was the time of a new beginning. American art in general and the USA’s painting, in particular, has started writing the history of art in its own colours. The artists in the USA have come out of the period of the 'borrowed brush strokes'.

Blue and Green Music  Georgia O'Keeffe
Oil on Canvas Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Georgia O'Keefe: Painting New Path of Abstract-ism    During these days, somewhere in Wisconsin, a girl of thirteen asks her co-student, “what are you going to do in your life?’ No answer from the co-student. But the girl herself said, ‘I will be an artist”. The ambitious girl was none other than Georgia O'Keefe who would be one of the greatest painters of the modern world.

In the field of art, it was a rule that any new form or style would be conceived and given birth in European countries; and then it would travel to the rest of the world. There was an artist who did the reverse. The abstract paintings which were done by Georgia O'Keefe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) got so much recognition that their fame travelled beyond the boundaries of New Mexico and the USA where she resided.

Life of Georgia O'Keefe:     Georgia had started her life in the area from where she would breathe the inspiration. During her artistic journey, she had travelled very much. Georgia had visited many countries, like India, Far East and Middle East countries, South Asia and Europe. But New Mexico had become her main residence. She died also in that region of New Mexico. It was her desire to spread her ashes on the fields where she lived. Her last wish was fulfilled. 

There are theories that profess to represent the outer side of the objects painted. The abstract artist would reject this concept, more or less. Instead, they try depicting the inner strength or the essence of the objects being painted, on one hand; and on another, they would endeavour to bring out all the possibilities of the colours on their palettes. Georgiana did well in both of the aspects by painting the inner intensity and power of the objects. In a way, she had revolutionized the art of America. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons.]

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