Painting Today: Commentary on Chapter 6: Ambiguous Abstraction

Finding Identity

Reading Chapter 6: Ambiguous Abstraction in Painting Today was akin to a metaphysical trip through my own mind. I related to many of the key concepts discussed behind abstraction and its keen ability to retain “the integrity of the human hand, and thus the integrity of the human identity.” Unlike in Chapter 5, abstraction reveals itself as more then just a representation of its own form. Painting itself is an activity, a translation of the human psyche. Process driven abstract work develops in moments of experimentation and happenstance. I won’t use the word chance. The decision to create a work of art already involves elements of human delegation. Even the surface prepared and the brush and paint, or pencil or ink chosen to create a mark, has a history of either conscious or unconscious configuration. In this way, abstraction becomes a means for exploring the human subconscious. A method through which to “embrace broad topics, such as memory and presence, materiality and transcendence” (Jonathan Lasker).

Living in our bodies, we experience the physical world through our five senses. We use these senses to understand the reality we live in and to create future perceptions. Abstraction develops a separate code of “schisms and multiplicities,” one that is not defined by past visual perceptions. One of the most fascinating aspects of art-making itself is that the physical process of constructing, dealing with the sense of touch, manifests in visual language. Abstract painting translates the facilities of the mind directly into optical information; a “model of human consciousness.” Transcendence sought through creation. The goal of art, according to artist Lui Kuo-sung is to “aspire to beauty and freedom of mind and to transcend nature.” I want to point out the word transcend, different then the word translate. As German Philosopher Immanuel Kant said “beauty can only be felt in the mind.”

All content sighted is derived from Painting Today by Tony Godfrey, PHAIDON


By klcloonan

Los Angeles Interdisciplinary Artist

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