I haven’t done a lot of non-representational pieces, and that has something to do with me thinking they are a cop out. Typically, one doesn’t have to deal with subject matter or meaning. One doesn’t have to call upon one’s life experience (or lack thereof) or have anything significant to say. Just flinging paint about and having happy accidents, while gradually refining one’s technique (think Pollack) seems too easy. The possible lack of content may explain why grandiose spiritual magnitude was heaped on the Abstract Expressionist works of the 50s. Less is not only more, it’s gargantuan. Francis Bacon once had a criticism of American abstract art, which was that, if you were only going to work with color and texture, you’d do well to use extraordinary colors and not dull, faded color. He thought some of the art in question looked like “old lace”. I can recognize the brilliance of a good Pollack canvas, but, still feel for myself that non-representational art could just not require enough of me or give enough.
The limitations of non-representational visual art have a lot to do with the mediums involved and how they are applied. If you’re going to fling paint, spill it, apply it in broad knife strokes or with a squeegee… this can limit the possibilities of suggestiveness. But, if one were working in a way which could create imagery that evokes the external world, one could infuse it with the sorts of tensions, complexities, and poignancies of one’s lived existence. This was the premise I had when I started this image. I wanted to create the kind of precision of a representational image – with subject, foreground, background, textures, and relationships between objects within it – without actually having anything recognizable in it. A musical approximation of this would be something like music with singing, but no lyrics, or at least no words which could be understood.
Interpretation How do you interpret a non-representational image? People will find various components of the piece suggest things to them (this probably could work as a Rorschach test if it didn’t automatically say more about the creator than people’s responses). Some people see a furry beast, fire, a brain, a profile, a nude… For me the focus is the swirly conglomerate in the upper left, which people have likened to a brain. I do see that as a kind of nexus of consciousness, perpetually self-defining itself and it’s boundaries, entangling itself, while simultaneously existing in a field of swirling consciousness all around it. I also see a relationship between the nugget-of-consciousness in the upper left and the undulating colorful stripes on the right, perhaps another quasi-distinct but less tangled consciousness, possibly in the process of unraveling. This had a bit to do with how one mentally separates oneself. artificially, from everything else: a process that is ultimately futile and self-defeating (where the only cure may be to let go of the illusion). Some of the colors suggest danger, such as burning. Overall it conjures an intelligence fluctuating between interior and exterior, dissolving and becoming, separation and integration, and all the while interacting with other apparent selves in a realm of flux.
Details Details below are at “actual pixels”. The image is 45″ x 24″ at 240 dpi.
To see a gallery view of all the above images and a few more details, go here.
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