Looking at Abstraction
In a recent interview for an article about my work, the journalist asked me to help her readers understand how they might approach looking at abstract art. It was an interesting question. I thought about it, gave her an answer and have been thinking about it ever since.
It seems that our minds are so hard wired to try and make sense out of, and stamp a reality on whatever it is we are looking at, that it is difficult for many to "get" abstract art. What the hell is it, what am I looking at? We often work hard and stretch to find a tree, or a landscape or SOMETHING we can discern is in there in this swirl of color and form.
It's helpful to think about looking at abstraction as one might experience listening to music. Think about it. Setting lyrics aside for the moment, which is more about story, when we listen to music we just take it in as it is. When we listen to Beethoven, we generally are not struggling to determine, oh, that must be the sound of a carriage going down the lane, or that must be the song of a bird. We to just tune into the sweep of it in purely abstract terms, the feeling of it, the emotion of it. We do this without questioning it or trying to "figure it out". It just is. We listen to a sequence of notes, sounds, tones and shadings, and just experience it all, viscerally.
And so it can be with visual art. One can approach looking at abstraction just as it is, taking it in all at once, the feeling of it, the emotion of it, without questioning it, or trying to define it or "figure it out". There is immense pleasure and resonance to be had in approaching visual art this way. In a sense, to experience it as music, in visual form.
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