Art History,  Movements and techniques

Abstract Art

Abstract Art is art that is non-representational and does not intend to portray an accurate representation of visual reality. Artists who work with abstraction often employ colour, form and mark-making in order to achieve the desired effect and to convey a message, emotion or their own perception of reality.

Circus, Daniela SCHWEINSBERG, 2016, Acrylic on Paper, 70 x 100 cm

Abstract art is a broad and varied movement that exists on a continuum. To abstract something is to explore it separately from something else, or indeed to remove it from its original source. In this way we can apply the term to art that is based on objective reality, where the artist has taken an object, figure or a landscape as their source but has simplified and reorganized the forms in such a way that the image is no longer a faithful visual representation. Abstract art can also be used to describe works of art that have no source at all and are not derived from external, objective reality. Artworks of this nature play with an imagery made up of shapes, forms and gestural marks. Some artists believe this type of non-objective abstract art to be the purest form of abstraction; however, distinguishing between the two can often be complicated and so the term Abstract art covers a wealth of modern and contemporary paintings. Since its arrival in the early 20th century, Abstract art has often been associated with possessing a moral element, symbolising notions of purity, spirituality and order.

Is difficult, Niki HARE, 2017, Graffiti on Canvas, 132 x 184 cm

Representational imagery that focused on perspective and creating a faithful, illusionistic depiction of the visual world underpinned the whole of Western art, from the Renaissance up until the mid-1800s. By the end of the century, society was making rapid changes and many artists felt that traditional, representative painting was no longer suitable and did not embody the contemporary experience. Major changes in science, technology and philosophy provided the inspiration for this new and radical visual language and attempted to reflect the shifts in the social and intellectual spheres.

Hesperia, Francesco D’ADAMO, 2017, Acrylic, Oil, Collage, Gouache on Canvas, 65 x 95 cm

It is commonly accepted that Abstract Art has its origins in Impressionist painting, with the likes of J.M.W Turner, Edouard Manet and Gustave Courbet exploring a more abstract style of painting. The highly stylized, two-dimensional landscapes of Paul Cézanne that would go on to influence the Cubism movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, all have a huge role to play in the development of Abstract art as we know it today. Cubism signaled a clear move away from recognisable forms, with both artists taking apart discernable objects and reducing them to their fundamental forms, reimagining figures into geometric compositions. While the works of Picasso and Braque retained some representational value, the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Sonia Delaunay are among the first that truly explored ‘pure’ abstraction. These remarkably innovative abstract canvases used intense colours, gestural and non-naturalistic brush marks, geometric and linear forms and sought to explore ideas of spirituality and interiority. The influence of Abstract art with its freedom of style and expression informed a number of art movements during the second half of the 20th Century, where this non-objective approach was adopted to varying degrees: from the more representational end of the spectrum, with movements like Cubism and Fauvism, to the pure aesthetics of Suprematism, Constructivism and the Dutch De Stijl movement, founded by Piet Mondrian.

Seelengedanken, Nadja Gabriela PLEIN, Oil on Canvas, 51 x 66 cm

Although representational art remains fundamental in many modern and contemporary movements, the power of this pure aestheticism and a move away from traditional representation has formed the backbone of almost all major artistic movements of the late 1900s such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism and indeed, Conceptual Art.

Danse, Ewa HAUTON, 2017, Charcoal, India ink on Paper, 100 x 70 cm

Abstraction allows for a huge amount of artistic freedom, something which is embraced by Singulart’s artists. Our contemporary artists are expressing their emotions and perceptions through a wide range of media, whether it be a bold and gestural abstract oil painting or a mixed media watercolour and acrylic canvas. The fundamental need for a non-figurative expressive outlet is ever present in the gestural mark-making of Singulart painters Daniela Schweinsberg and Niki Hare or in the abstract compositions of the Italian painter Francesco D’Adamo. Artists such as Ewa Hauton are exploring themes of femininity and movement in her semi-abstract paper works, and abstracts the female form with sweeping strokes of charcoal and sprays of india ink, while Nadja Gabriela Plein also explores notions of movement and musicality through her dynamic abstract canvases.

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