Thoughts on abstracts

04 June 2010

This was my response to a blog post by Gary Reef (at

The topic was:

"...probably why abstract artists get such a wrap across the knuckles from realists because a lot (im not saying all) of abstract artist choose to work in that style because they can't draw. Is abstraction the easy way out for many artists? ... "

Since art is subjective, isn't it a moot point to say that some "can" or "cannot" draw?

It's all in the eye of the beholder... and no matter what, someone somwhere will find something "wrong" with what you draw, no matter how well developed your realistic technique might be.

Of course, it's not fair to say someone can't draw just because s/he makes an abstract painting. It makes as much sense as saying that I can't make a cake, just because I'm serving hummus and beans. When it comes to viewing an artwork, the potentials and skills that one might have in any other style are really quite irrelevant. When you see an abstract, see the abstract... when you see a realistic portrait, see the portrait...

I think it's human nature to be afraid of what we don't know, what we don't understand; our brains are always seeking familiarity, and that's why I think abstract painters have such a difficult time, and must constantly defend their artwork and prove their validity as artists, just because people can't glance at their work and know, instantly, what it means and represents. It's a shame, really, because those people who are afraid of abstract, and therefore thumb their noses at it, are really missing out on a lot of powerful and inspiring artwork. Too bad for them.


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