What is abstraction?

Abstract art can be hard for many to interpret. Instinctively, humans seek visual information in the same direct “realistic” way as they do a picture, or a mirror.

This is an excerpt from IdeelArt:

Abstraction isn’t a style or movement; it can exist in all art to a certain degree.

Various dictionaries define Abstraction as ‘freedom from representational qualities in art’ and ‘not representing things pictorially’. The Tate describes it as when an artist has either ‘removed (abstracted) elements from an object to create a more simplified form’ or produced something which ‘has no source at all in external reality’.

While an artist may have a real object in mind when painting, that object might be stylised, distorted or exaggerated using colours and textures to communicate a feeling, rather than produce a replica. It’s more about how the beauty of shapes and colour can override representational accuracy.

Abstraction is a ‘continuum’. Many art movements have been influenced by and employ abstract principles to a varying extent; the more removed from reality a painting or sculpture is, the more abstract it could be considered. Cubism, for example, with its distorted subjects, is highly abstract, whereas an Impressionist painting might be more conservatively so.

Most of my own works are abstract, although you may find some figurative symbols within them. I am more interested in interpreting tendencies and possibilities than representing physical actualities. The dialogue with the audience may then refer to current events and broad subjects without directly defining them. The idea is to encourage the imagination.

As an example, the featured image is called “Garden” from 2007. At first glance, one does not see an actual garden, nor should they. The work is an abstraction of the idea of creative people collaborating to make beauty.  At the time I was part of the artist group Apollonova, in Northeast Ohio.