Saturday, 11 September 2010

I like it...but what does it MEAN?

I read somewhere recently that what makes art good is not necessarily what it represents but how you feel when you look at it (I may be paraphrasing but you get the idea). One man's masterpiece is another man's random blobs on a canvas!

Match pots and Polyfilla!
There are so many different art forms and styles of painting and variety is, after all, the spice of life. Everyone has their personal preferences as to what they like or don't like and while I might admire an artist's style of work and technical brilliance, the picture itself mightn't be what I would want to hang in my home.

My own personal gripe however is with the pretensions that often seem to be associated with the art world. Take abstract art - I like to look at it and I even prefer to hang it on my walls over any other type of art work, but I genuinely don't get it when abstract artists create a painting made up of random shapes, splotches and colours and come up with some arty farty bunkum about how it represents "the soul in torment as a result of the devastation of the wheat fields of the Outer Hebrides during the great biblical plagues". Or something. 'Eh?' is my stock response to such hokum.

I would have so much more admiration for an artist who said, "Actually, I thought these colours looked good together and just let my imagination run riot with the paintbrush - hey presto this is how it turned out. It doesn't actually mean anything but, sure, doesn't it look nice!"

'Abstract' just made up of match pots to go with the decor!

I know that abstract artists (and probably the 'installation' artists who can make £1million from setting a dirty sock in the middle of a room and calling it art) would disagree with me and use big words to tell me how the very essence of their being cries out with artistic awakening which inspires them to... (yawn, sorry I dozed off there for a minute, you were saying?) but while we are still allowed to voice a personal opinion, mine is that abtract art is just that - really nice to look at but doesn't actually represent anything - that's why it's abstract!

So that I could try to educate myself on the subject, I've been reading up on abstract art and the different forms that it takes. There are so many disciplines and sub-categories that it would take me all day to attempt to decipher or explain it, but the gist is that most abstract art is not a study of a particular object or image but is a study in colour and brush stroke.

The pictures for my parent's dining room
using the curtain pattern for inspiration
and polyfilla for the textured look!

There are Cubists, such as Pablo Picasso, Neoplasticism - which apparently is the belief that real art should not be the reproduction of real objects but the expression of the absolutes of life (?). To those artists the only absolutes were vertical and horizontal lines in black and primary colours so that's what featured in that style of art - which seems a bit limiting to my mind - surely there are only so many straight lines in black and primary colours that you can paint. Not to mention they wouldn't go with my house colour scheme at all! (Sorry, I'm being flip.) Piet Mondrian was one such artist.

Then there are Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock whose work I really like but, again, just because it is asthetically pleasing and not because I see anything deep and meaningful in why he painted what he painted.

Abstract that just happens to match our walls!

Now, this might also seem controversial to certain arty types but I honestly believe that you don't actually require any artistic ability to create a piece of abstract art. When S and I moved into our house a few years ago, we decided to paint all our own canvasses. S had done this in his last house and basically it is as easy as buying match pots of normal wall paint in the colour scheme you choose for the room and just coming up with patterns and shapes that happen to please you - no artistic ability required!

One of the abstract masterpieces S did!
I like textured surfaces so experimented with spreading polyfilla on the canvas (and letting it dry) before painting over the top of it. I am also a fan of curves and not so much of straight lines and so most of the abstract patterns I created tended to have softer blurry edges while S creates much more elaborate designs with intricate details. I really like them and how they 'go' when hung on the walls but they don't mean anything - which I suppose is the point I am trying to make about my personal opinion on abstract art.

My parents asked me to do a couple of canvasses for their dining room and when they saw how easily I created theirs (I used the pattern on their curtains as inspiration!) my dad then took to rustling them up himself anytime they redecorate!

These are my dad's abstract paintings for their guest bedroom!

The last one I did when we re-decorated our living room was actually inspired by a little ceramic candle holder we found in Bulgaria in the exact colours we wanted (the only good thing to come out of a holiday from hell!)

It matches the candle holder we got on holiday, is all !

Anyway, it would be interesting to hear people's opinions of abstract art - is there something I am missing in understanding the meaning behind it or can we call a spade an effing shovel (as they say where I'm from) and say it's just paint on a canvas?


  1. I think when it comes to abstract art what the person who ends up owning it feels or thinks is much more important than any story the artist can come up with, sometimes those stories can even ruin my own reason for wanting it. When I buy anything abstract it's because it reminds me of something.

    I had one in my bedroom which unfortunately came a cropper when we were redecorating and something fell on it, but anyway keep in mind that even my own husband would piss himself laughing at me when I said why I bought it, but when we were in Egypt there was a really strong smell first thing in the morning, once it hit about 7am and the roads were filled with cars it was gone but seeing as we were up at about 5am we always smelt it and it was kind of old books or paper and the damp smell of the water getting the sun and something spicy and fruity and it might have been a hint of tobacco, it was a weird smell but oddly the colours in that painting reminded me of a smell, so I bought it:)

  2. All it has to mean is something to the person who owns the art or made the art IMHO :)


Your comments always colour me happy! Thank you for popping by.


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