Understanding Abstract Art

In our last blog on Afrofuturism, we discussed the imagination and emotions as two of the motivations implicit in the creative process of an Afrofuturistic art form. We also touched on a theory that the past present and future occur simultaneously. With these two ideas at the forefront of my mind, I am writing about an Art Smart Diasporal Rhythm event which featured members and artists discussing Abstract Art, which took place long before the Afrofuturism presentation. Yet, I find myself honing-in on qualities in Abstract Art also present in Afrofuturism, which confirms for me, all things are related.

The essence of Abstract Art is an intriguing fusion of technique and emotion. The artist employs multiple elements of art such as color, shape, texture, line, and value. Most artists, however, purposefully want the audience to engage in an exercise of emotion and imagination, just as the artist did in constructing the abstract painting.

Rather than asking, “What does this painting mean?” Allow the painting to ask questions of you. What emotions do you feel when you look at this painting? What is the narrative you can create in your mind by looking at this painting? Whatever explanations you surmise as the answers to these questions, will also give you the meaning of the painting.

What is Abstract Art? It is absolutely an expression of freedom. It is the freedom to enter into the inner domain of you and to release your imagination for the world to see and to feel, whether you are the artist or the viewer. It is a concrete feeling of capturing the ephemeral soul of you. It is the creation of a new language written in brush and paint which speaks to us in coded whispers of a new truth.

Often, we approach an abstract painting blindly and allow its significance to elude us if we do not use our imagination and our emotions. Sometimes we are aware of the bio of the artist and these threads of information may yield clues to the artist’s heartfelt emotions. Pearlie Taylor was one of the featured artists at our panel discussion on Abstract Art. She eloquently articulated the changes in her artist life which freed her from painting in a realistic style to expressing herself in abstract. She spoke of her Muse speaking to her in silent emotional urgings at a very young age, in the unlikely dwelling place of sharecroppers, to create. As she grew in her craft as an artist, her life emulated that growth in marrying creative men whose creativity was expressed through music and refined taste.

Eventually her life led her to paint in a different genre, the abstract, as in this space, she felt herself become one with the idea and the painting. Interestingly she stated, she started from a place where she did not know who she was, to the Abstract Expressionist she is today. She freed her spirit by delving within and following the urgings of her true creative self.

Dorian Nash performed an exceptional job of moderating the discussion. Collector D. E. Simmons also described how he was once a collector of literal art and now he is drawn inexplicably to the beauty of the abstract. The mental engagement it required to focus on the meaning of an Abstract painting enhanced his own creative thinking processes. Gail Spann, and G.L. Smothers, other collectors, spoke of similar transformation in their taste for the abstract. Others on the panel such as artist/collector Felicia Grant-Preston and Collector James Parker similarly described a recognition of their magnified appreciation for all art. One discerned that these artists/collectors articulated that living in the present is infinitely more rewarding than productivity. Observing, creating and appreciating abstract art, places us in the moment, delving into the unspoken significance of life, thus, creating and connecting value individually.

To restate a quote written by me in The Love Affair Continues, “As Collectors we are in a continuous search for the elusive concept of beauty which often presents itself as a vivid and complex mosaic of the new, and, of the forgotten.If you haven’t already.

Learn to appreciate the Abstract.

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