Adding Meaning to Abstract

Published on : March 15, 2015


Abstract art or commonly known as modern art, is becoming more and more popular art form of today. It can Roughly be divide into two styles.

1) Realistic Paintings and 2) Abstract Paintings.

Realistic paintings are those one can easily identify the objects in the painting. Abstract art is always not of identical meaning. Artwork which takes liberties, altering for instance colour and form in ways that are conspicuous, can be said to be partially abstract. Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable. In geometric abstraction, one is unlikely to find references to naturalistic entities. Figurative art and total abstraction are almost mutually exclusive. But figurative and representational (or realistic) art often contains partial abstraction. Abstract art is a non realistic art wherein colours, lines, shapes & textures etc. are used to create an image, different from the illusion of reality.

Historically by the end of 19th century European artists were revising their painting style and the methodology of creating art and the main reason was the invention of camera. This effort was headed them far away from the realism and towards the abstraction. As photography and other forms of technology grew, many artists began to develop more abstract art. Painters used the surface of the canvas, distortions and vibrant colours to create emotionally charged paintings. Mainly two Art movements which contributed to the development of abstract art were Impressionism and Expressionism. The heritage of painters like Van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, Cézanne, Picaso, Gauguin, and Seurat was essential for the development of modern art.

As an artist I personally feels that there is no dictator standing over our shoulder telling us what is & isn’t good art. I use abstraction in my paintings to create a specific mood. Its not meant to look real. Its meant to get the particular feeling across & to create the images people will enjoy. I love the freedom of “paint outside the lines”. Painting abstract makes you as an artist really feel the art. Abstract is not easy as ‘Oh, what a beautiful landscape or a portrait, it means a lot to me but on the other side, abstract for me however is all about the viewer… not only what I paint.

Many times it happens with me that viewer ask me the meaning or the subject of the painting. When asked about subject matter, the Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock said:

“I am the subject”

I personally feel Pollock’s statement is not just true, it is inevitable. The experiences, personality, memories and mood of the abstract artist cannot help but be fed into the painting if the artist approaches the work in an open and honest way. I do not need an external subject or idea before I can create a painting – I simply begin. The fact that I am me and no-one else is what makes my work different to anyone else’s, and the same is true of all artists. The colours I choose, the marks a make, the accidents I choose to leave, or to obliterate, these are all things that I choose because of who I am. If you were to present several different artists with the same basic design on a canvas and ask them to pick up a brush and develop the painting, the differences in what they would choose to do would be enormous. I have watched other abstract artists at work on paintings and thought “I would never in a million years have chosen that colour and put it there.” Not because I think it is wrong or bad, but because they are who they are and “only I am I”.

Wow! what a great explanation !

Creating an abstract is something that cannot be put into the words. The viewer should not look for a narrative story in abstract the same way viewer look at the realistic painting. But that does not mean there is no meaning or no subject, or that abstract paintings cannot communicate with and move people.

If painting is untitled then also there is no need to describe the painting. Its viewer’s aspect how he or she feels, & that’s enough. I always start my painting with no subject in the mind. It is the only way to paint the real Abstract, else it will lead the painter to some realism or some identical shapes. This is the main reason I always title my painting when I complete it. I am extremely thank full to many of my friends, art lovers for helping me to choose the title.

Abstract is just a play of emotions and the medium is paints or anything suitable. Its a heart to heart conversation. As an abstract artist takes the freedom to explore, viewer has also the freedom to accept it. The only condition to viewer is to look at the painting with no prejudiced mind. Just look at it, if it holds your attention, then enjoy it, that’s all.

My humble thanks to the rich history of Indian abstract artists who came before us, specially Top-notch Indian artist names like Ram Kumar, Raza, Vasudeo Gaitonde, Padamsee, Sabavala and Swaminathan not only have come close to the price levels of some leading international abstract painters but also have directly or indirectly influenced a host of younger artists to dabble in this genre of art, but we don’t need to pay homage to them by emulating them. We can create our own art within our own aesthetic guidelines.


— Sanjay Shankar Akolikar 


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