02 September 2011
The internet’s number one image for 21st century abstract art
This summer's edition of ARTFORUM INTERNATIONAL discussed Abstract Expressionism. This is my response:
I am a teacher (not of art).
I have no formal education in art beyond school.
My opinion, to many of you, will count as nothing and you will probably stop reading now.
However, readers who reach this line should click on the 'Artwork' tab above and judge for themselves whether or not my work justifies the strength of my assertions:
AbEx lives on; automatism is humbling and empowering; inspirational composition is not a craft.
AbEx lives on...
The box of Abstract Expressionism was never shut as it couldn't and cannot shut. It is amorphous and downright contradictory. From several angles it has no sides at all so good luck finding a lid to close on this 'movement'. It is vulgar machismo, some argue, yet intuitive feelings frequently dominate. It is often representational to an extent which denies its life as abstract. It lives through the material properties of the employed media and as media shifts through time, so this work expands and will continue to expand into new sources of media.
Automatism is humbling and empowering...
I deny random, accident or chance to enter my work. I decide where and how to make my mark but I remain open to the hand diverting from the plan - I have learned not to resist this diversion - this is my 'automatism'. Automatism de-skills, some suggest but I disagree. There is a skill to recognising and employing the creative experience, the force that drives the hand through a by-pass of conscious thought. The force is powerful and has its logic embedded in a higher order of understanding than our limited analytical minds can achieve. Have faith in this force. It is deeply humbling to experience. The work reaches new heights - as Matisse said, "When I am not conscious of what I am doing, it's a complete success." The artist is empowered by automatism - reputedly what de Kooning learned from Gorky.
Inspirational composition is not a craft...
Space is the key in Abstract Expressionist art. Space is where and how the composition finds life. Space is God to an artist. Great composition is not craft. Great composition is driven from the diversion, the faith in the automatic response. So many of the truly epic AbEx artworks are inspirational through their complex and unfathomable compositional and space relationships. There is another force (than man's craft) at work in an inspirational artist and this is deeply enthralling to the audience. Perhaps it's the faith in this force that fundamentally attracts the audience. Of course, they will never experience the faith for themselves through reflection on a painting - it is only through their own creative adventures that this gem is mined.