Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Colliding Orbs," My New Abstract Expressionist Painting

This is my latest acrylic painting. It's 24 x 36 inches, and titled "Colliding Orbs." I was going to call it "A Stitch in Time" because it reminded me of agitated clocks and a vision of time run amuck, which might have been a more fitting title when considering the chaos in our world. What do you think?

When I paint, I'm after the physical, kinesthetic experience of moving around a surface and applying pigment to it, and watching what evolves. It's like a mad dance or ritual color-celebration, in which I pursue a new visual experience. I'm not trying to replicate anything from our everyday world, but rather, to immerse myself in a novel sensory experience that will yield an equally unpredictable product with its own life and totality. It's this evolving and dynamic process of finding color, composition, and form in new arrangements, that gives me excitement and makes my days interesting.

Wikipedia defines Abstract Expressionism as:

Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and also the one that put New York City at the center of the art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. Although the term "abstract expressionism" was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm, regarding German Expressionism. In the USA, Alfred Barr was the first to use this term in 1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky.[1]

Technically, an important predecessor is
surrealism, with its emphasis on spontaneous, automatic or subconscious creation. Jackson Pollock's dripping paint onto a canvas laid on the floor is a technique that has its roots in the work of Max Ernst. Another important early manifestation of what came to be abstract expressionism is the work of American Northwest artist Mark Tobey, especially his "white writing" canvases, which, though generally not large in scale, anticipate the "all over" look of Pollock's drip paintings.

The movement's name is derived from the combination of the emotional intensity and self-denial of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism, the Bauhaus and Synthetic Cubism. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, rather nihilistic.[2] In practice, the term is applied to any number of artists working (mostly) in New York who had quite different styles, and even applied to work which is not especially abstract nor expressionist. Pollock's energetic "action paintings", with their "busy" feel are different, both technically and aesthetically, to the violent and grotesque Women series of Willem de Kooning (which are figurative paintings) and to the rectangles of color in Mark Rothko's Color Field paintings (which is not what would usually be called expressionist and which Rothko denied was abstract), yet all three are classified as abstract expressionists.

Abstract expressionism has many stylistic similarities to the Russian artists of the early twentieth century such as
Wassily Kandinsky. Although it is true that spontaneity or the impression of spontaneity characterized many of the abstract expressionists works, most of these paintings involved careful planning, especially since their large size demanded it. With artists like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Emma Kunz, and later on Rothko, Barnett Newman and Agnes Martin, abstract art clearly implied expression of ideas concerning the spiritual, the unconscious and the mind.[3]

I'm one of those people who finds fascination in the spiritual and subconscious aspects of art-making. I paint for the love of it, and I try to leave the critical adult behind me in favor of joy. For me, the joy of painting evokes the childhood happiness of free expression, exploration, and spontaneity. It provides the stimulation and excitement of a unique experience. In this case, THE VISUAL EXPERIENCE. I have capitalized this phrase because it so succinctly defines my goal and describes the gratification I feel in the process of putting pigment on canvas.

How do you feel about Abstract Expressionism or about abstract art in general? Does it excite your eye and resonate for you? Who are your favorite artists, abstract or otherwise?

Detail of "Colliding Orbs - Image c Lynda Lehmann

Image and text c Lynda Lehmann. If you would like to view more of my art or make a purchase, please visit Lynda Lehmann Painting and Photography or my gallery at Imagekind, where you can choose from several sizes and paper types or buy my prints plain or matted and framed. >

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