Sparks Gallery asks 29 local San Diego artists, currently exhibited in “Resonance”- an abstracts show, “Why [they] create work in the form of abstraction?”
Alexander Arshansky: Although it seems like an easy question, there is no easy answer. I create abstract art because nothing can show how you feel better than abstract. It brings raw emotions and speaks to you from a place of feeling rather than logic. Creating an abstract is like a game, where you don’t have any rules, you don’t know your final goal or destination, you don’t know how long you will want to play and with what. Approaching this as something fun and exciting with unpredictable but definitely promising results is how I do it. Why I do it? For the journey, for the experience, for seeing how things may come together, how to fix imperfections and how to leave imperfections in place, how to challenge a spectator’s mind, how to channel the universe through ambiguity, i do it because I am bored, because I am happy or in pain, One of the things abstract art offers to each observer is the ability to see and recognize something unique that often no one else can see, translating colors and shapes into feelings.
Amy Paul: My first abstract pieces were all about color. I was interested in one hue shifting across the panel in to another. I also explored the breadth of a single color, changing it incrementally from cooler to warmer, lighter to darker, higher and lower degrees of saturation. While my representational work also explores subtle shifts in color, in these abstract pieces color is the subject. Just as one studies the values and shapes in a face to paint a portrait, in my more abstract work I am studying the subtle shifts between colors and how the interaction of those colors create new colors. Abstraction for me is a study of color, pattern, and how individual component parts combine to make another.
Angela Harken: I was raised with a tremendous amount of order- which has served me well in many areas of my life, however, my painting is an area in my life where I can explore, be free, break all the rules and live in an unconfined space.
Dan Landrum: All art is abstraction, it only a matter of degree and the criteria for what is selected from reality. Modern life is passing by faster and faster, we peddle ferociously fiercer and fiercer to keep up. The flow overwhelming. Abstraction allows us to capture impressions and compress huge amounts of information and detail into palpable feeling. This process has its own rigor, of which my friend Joan Mathison’s says,
I am trying something new and more advanced than what I normally do, despite the simple shapes and large brushwork this kind of painting is really harder to accomplish than painting a more detailed image, it requires a more abstract way of seeing and in reality the simpler the outcome of the painting, more decisions have to be made during the execution, I feel like I am really painting, instead of copying, it is very freeing and exhausting at the same time, I will continue in this vein and see where it goes. (source)
Abstract art, nonfigurative art, nonobjective art, and nonrepresentational art are loosely related terms. They are similar, but not of identical meaning. Our connotation of “abstract,” like “extract” is an Industrial Age scientific reduction that aims to express the essence of a thing. For Solomon Guggenheim, when he opened his Museum of Non-Objective Painting in 1939, “non-objective” expressed an immaterial, formal, felt sense or spiritual aspect. Later Mark Rothko’s site-specific Chapel, a meditative space filled with his paintings, would extend the definition to include “a holy place open to all religions and belonging to none.”
Abstract, like figurative and representational, still relies on the associative mind. It compares, remembers and alludes to things relative to other similars. It becomes symbol driven and eventually you stop seeing the thing itself and only see what it stands for in your symbol set. The non-objective is fully experiential. It is a purely unique experience. Not referring to a thing, it has nothing to associate it to. On each encounter it remains unique, fresh and alive.
Non-objective, “Uptown Funk” is a seminal piece in the Abstract Expression conversation that extends that conversation beyond formal, felt sense or spiritual aspects into realms of universal “states of being.”
Daniel Ketelhut: I have had a lifelong fascination with the strange and otherworldly, and I find that abstraction conveys the essence of this in a more direct and visceral way than would a representational rendering. Also, I seek to convey moods and feelings, which I likewise feel are better depicted and experienced in an abstract context. Furthermore, abstract and semi-abstract imagery allows the viewer to bring his or her own experiences to the piece and pull from it personal associations and images. I paint to plumb the depths of my own imagination and to tap into that of the viewer as well. I invite all who experience my paintings to enter the strange but familiar stomping grounds of their own imaginative potential.
Danielle Nelisse: Just like cooking a simple yet decadent dish, or playing a lovely acoustic rendition of a song in its simplest form, I create artwork in the form of abstraction because it condenses everything down to the basics: color, shape, line, texture, and soul.
Doris Bittar: Abstraction takes from the world and distorts it. In other words, abstraction is familiar. I am primarily interested in narratives, linkages to history and the decor or setting for decorum or civil conversation. A pattern is a repeating fragment from reality that could also be a framework to ease difficult conversation. In the pieces in this exhibit I use the Arabis numbers as a point of departure to explore imaginary spaces and to use techniques that I have not used before such as layering, glazing and improvising with non-rational spatial dynamics to bring about a conversation about history and perception.
Duke Windsor: Well, for years I was not impressed with abstract art in general. I actually felt at one time that this type of work was created by artists that lacked in technical traditional drawing & painting skills. I also felt it was not really very good art. The truth is I was “artistically illiterate.” I did not understand this genre of work, what it meant, and how it defined what art could become. I was floored when I saw my first series of Mark Rothko field color paintings. That was when I experimented with the “process.” Process, I found was the key.
I reached a turning point in my continuing study of art in 2010 when I was on a year-long mentorship program. The now defunct San Diego Fine Arts Society had brought an artist consulting mentor to work with a group of local artists individually in their studio. This was a twelve month program. My mentor was LA based art consultant, Yoram Gill. He had seen my urban works and felt they were good. But they were just pretty pictures to him. Then he saw some abstract experimental works in the corner of the room and was quite impressed with the range of emotion they conveyed. “Why don’t you do more of this? No…you really should do more of these!”
He turned me on to other famous artists to look at and study. Artists to the likes of Helen Frankenthaler and her husband Bob Motherwell, Franz Kline, Fotana, and Soulage. Yes, of Pollack. So, I studied their works and read their biographies. Their art…wow! Their lives, not a chance! Many of them had horrible lives. I think this contributed to the emotion and connection to their works. Though, I continue to enjoy each of their philosophies and treaties on their works, I believe today as an artist its a different way of seeing the work. For my Blue Series in 2011, Alex Salazar introduced me to the works of Yve Klein and his blue works.
I get it now! I can appreciate all art because of it.
I believe it is the “PROCESS” of doing the work and not being concerned with the restriction of what it will be which frees up the spirit to play. Play is not just a child’s action, yet a function in the freeing of the mind, body and spirit when creating. It is a whole being process. The process of letting go in the action paints of Pollack and the free flowing of the staining works of Frankenthaler typifies the freeing nature of letting the work take shape on its own. This is wonderful.
Finally, I still continue with experimenting with gravity in my work in the “Currents” series. This is letting a single drop of paint form itself and flow current-like down the canvas. Each drip follows the natural laws of physics and literally paints itself. I’ve also begun to really work on my urban scenes using the abstract applied textures ie. sand, paste, scrapings, collage, and now gold leaf to my scenes for a more tactile experience visually, getting further away from the pretty pictures.
Elena Karavodin: Abstraction is a very personal process. When creating work through abstraction, I do not focus on what will be the end result in that piece of art, instead I embrace the journey of creation. Each line, shape, and movement presented was produced by a different thought, emotion, or idea. Creating abstraction is meditative and healing. With patience, hopefully, the viewer can find their own reflection within the art.
Edwin Nutting: My work in the abstract is appealing for it’s inherent chaos. Manmade forms and the ‘facts’ they contain are explored at the sunrise then sunset of my painting processes. Bends and folds become gradations, paint as light fills the voids with color. The work unfolds, opportunities are created and explored and then transformed back to the second dimension, allowing viewer’s interpretation of the illusions within my art.
Grace Gray Adams: My definition for abstraction is the reduction of an Idea or object down to its most essential elements. Normally I don’t work in abstraction. My digital paintings are more nonrepresentational than abstract. As I contemplate the word abstraction a reverse process comes to mind. These pieces tell me what they are and from where they come. I play with colors and forms and they turn and whisper spirit, sex, love or space.
Irene Abraham: My abstractions come out of reflections of the observed world. Painting for me is both a meditative process and a search for the solution of a visual puzzle. If you look at anything closely enough you reach an image that looks abstract. So even if you don’t recognize the origins of my paintings they may evoke images you are familiar with – like machinery, maps, circuit boards, graphs, landscapes or microscopic views.
Jaime Derringer: I love creating abstract work because I personally enjoy looking at abstract work—I love that it’s open for interpretation.
Larry Caveney: When I paint in the non-ojective way of painting, I reflect on histories of action, color field, and hard edge painting. I enjoy combining various appoarches to painting that reference other painters such as Pollock, Kline, Rothko, Bacon, Elsworth Kelly and various color pallettes from DC comics. This type of painting is about sensation (where we started before talking) and not the social way of language.
Leah Pantéa: I used to create figural work. I stopped because I noticed that when people see something that they are familiar with, they would simultaneously put on a lens in which they viewed my work. My audience would judge its merit on how much my work looked true-to-life and interpreted through a general like or dislike for the subject matter. Then floated out of the mind simply and without impact. It felt like a series of surface conversations. I began pushing my work into abstraction when I desperately wanted to talk about the turbulence beneath the surface. Abstraction slows down an audience to seek something they recognize within your work. In that process, they get lost in the ripples of the internal, loosing sight of what they were seeking in the beginning.
Lee Sie: I love to take a subject and focus in on a small section, which unveils the beauty of details that we normally wouldn’t see. I look for abstract and whimsical shapes, lines, and colors that are joyful and bring smiles to the faces of my viewers.
Lenore Simon: It was the cubists whose works excited me the most during my early art studies. I believe that abstractions go beyond more conventional art forms inviting the viewer to enjoy the work for its aesthetic characteristics rather than literal representations of persons, places or things. For me, Abstraction fosters much more creativity and freedom of expression than does more traditional approaches to making fine art.
Li Huai: To me, Abstract art is about possibilities, potential. It is concrete and fluid at the same time. To be able to recognize, understand and connect to what people sees as viewers is empowering. Raised and educated in China during my early years, my appreciation for the Abstract art form intensified as I grew and matured after immigrating to the USA…This unique artistic approach and mode of thinking affected me and allowed me to realize the vigor and relentlessness of the human mind and imagination. As an artist and as a producer, it s magical and fulfilling to be able to transmit such power to viewers.
Linda Litteral: My Abstract work is rooted in the idea of using the creative process as a healing process. I assign colors and shapes to my emotions and put them expressively onto the canvas or into a sculpture. This way of expressing allows me to look at and feel emotions that may be difficult to confront in any other way. By taking those emotions and putting them on the canvas or in a sculpture, it allows me to look more carefully at those emotions outside myself. I can see them more clearly when they are on the canvas rather than within myself. With that clarity I believe healing occurs.
Mayra Navarro: I choose to paint in abstract style because so decides my imagination. Abstract painting connects me deeply with my senses so makes it easy to create curious shapes with interesting dimensions. That’s why my paintings tend to be fun, diverse and balanced. Also relying on other images isn’t necessary to come up with something new, the secret is in the mix, the amount of layers and the colors I select. This practice is true and serves as my symbol for originality and personality for all of my works.
Prudence Horne: My paintings have evolved throughout my career. Abstraction was not a conscience decision, it came from simplifying my idea’s and exploring various ways of presenting space, shapes, and color relationships.
Sherry Krulle-Beaton: Abstract painting for me is a way to express myself in a second language, a visual language. I reveal my thoughts and feelings more comfortably and creatively when I am not solely confined by the bounds of reality. Abstraction is a place where I can freely use the elements and principles of design to construct a piece of art that becomes more expressive and expansive
Stefanie Bales: I like to work intuitively and abstraction provides a fluid platform for doing so. I love starting with a fresh blank canvas and then building up layers of color and texture to create form. I often let the mediums and materials lead me, rather than starting out with any specific contextual concept. It’s a very freeing method of working.
Ted Meyer: For most of my artistic career I did work with a strong narrative. My work was body based but I often added patterns in the background. I was struggling with a narrative for a new set of painting and thought that I would just work on the patterning, thus abstracts.
It has been an interesting process and one that I plan on continuing alongside my figurative/narrative work.
A lot of my abstracts also include old family photos and ephemera from family but they are used in a non linear way. They are shapes and patterns. They are not trying to tell a story.
My titles are based on the titles of old TV show. I tried to match the painting up with the colors of the time period, or the opening credits. Thus, Bewitched is blue as their opening credits, and Rockford Files is tan as a lot of it was shot at the beach.
Victor Angelo: Ever since I started creating art: even my first painting on canvas exhibited at the San Diego Museum Of Art- my work has always been in the form of abstraction. There are just so many ways to communicate in paint what words or literal depictions cannot fathom. Abstraction is also my way of translating audio form into what can be experienced visually.