Almost abstract

Blue-green Bulge

Bulge - 2010

These two almost-abstracts are a little change of pace. The first started as a door in a yellow stucco wall, and the second as a broken guardrail near one of my favorite beaches. But those reference points are largely irrelevant now.

It is interesting how non-representational art can demand both more and less of the viewer. Abstracts have the potential to become eye-candy — color, composition and textures to please the eye, without any representational component from which to draw meaning.

However, even without an external reference point, some abstract art evokes feelings and reactions, and forces the viewer to find meaning in it. It is a mystery to me how to accomplish that on a consistent basis, and to make abstract images more accessible and understandable beyond their appeal of color and form.

Guardrail at Boiler Bay

Let Down the Guard - 2009

12 Comments on “Almost abstract

  1. Extremely cool. I especially love the top one–it reminds me of a sort of Mesa Verde dwelling. The bottom one made me think of lobster claws.

  2. Thanks for visiting, Jala! That top one does have a southwestern feel. Probably the colors and the rough adobe-like texture. The bottom “lobeter claw” image is interesting in its larger version where some of the details of the guardrail (a chain, rivets, etc.) are recognizable and create some dissonance with the other objects the shapes suggest.

  3. I tried to leave my mind totally blank with no preconceived ideas, and I kept seeing skin with veins, and then of course, there was that large blue nose 🙂 Abstract art often does become eye candy. Can it mean something without some sort of representational reference? Interesting…
    And the second picture, definitely says claw of some sort. The dark reds and greens also feel a little disturbing.

  4. Thanks Catherine. I had to chuckle at your “big blue nose.” Abstracts are vey much in the eye of the beholder, and I have no good answer to the questions about the meaning of art with no representational reference point — except that sometimes I enjoy the process and the result. The second image, in fact was a little menacing. The rusted guardrail had been purposefully broken to allow vehicles access to a section of beach where they surely do not belong. Perhaps my feelings about that found their way into the image.

  5. I think in the case of these images, the subject matter is basically irrelevant. I see your work in terms of colour and texture and I enjoy it without any thought what so ever…… which, by the way, is a good thing in my book.

  6. Razzbuffnik, based on this comment and the one on the next post, you are one who can relate to more abstract images. Unfortunately (because I enjoy working in the abstract sometimes) many people do not find them accessible. These people need something representational to trigger the response that draws them in. The challenge with abstract art is to elicit a response without leaning on a narrative or representation.

  7. I like your photos abstract or otherwise. I always see something in them: even if it is only the color triggering something somewhere hidden in my brain.
    Everyone’s brain/senses/triggers are different … thankfully.

    Photos/paintings/books/poems/??? are keys that unlock different doors for different people.

    For me the first photo makes me think of tents, ships, and castles.
    The second … crab claws.

  8. Thanks, planetross. Seems there is some consensus on the crab or lobster claws bit. And I like the tents, ships and castles from the first.

  9. let’s say the sublimely abstract (for lack of a better word) and the abstract narrative are in perceptual relation while slightly standing apart. in the purely abstract ‘rule’ the language is of line shape color, a rarified ‘language’ of color etc. to seek that universal impact beyond representation, while the abstract narrative finds expression in the form itself and visualizes it in abstract terms while bending the purity of abstract rule to accommodate the corporeal. thus creating a ‘story’ or a spiritual dimension in the material….if that makes any sense…..
    these images seem to do both in a new way, wonderful, and not like simple ‘eye candy’ they have depth, precision, feeling-great stuff.

  10. Thanks so much, tipota! I like your concept of the perceptual relation between the sublimely abstract and the abstract narrative — and saying further that abstract narrative is one product of the dialectic between abstraction and representation. That’s a concept I’ve been trying to put words around.

  11. I just love the top one. The colors, shapes and textures all work beautifully together.

    The second one is vibrant and exciting. But also a little scary like that sharp hook is gonna gouge someone.

  12. Thanks for stopping by, Carol! The print of the top one looks even richer on paper! And your reaction to the second one is — well, I like it, but it’s not the kind of thing most people would want on their walls. Something vaguely menacing about it. Thanks again!

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