I am very pleased to participate in this group exhibition celebrating women abstract artists in Victoria, Australia. I submitted a large pigment on paper work – God’s Tears, 180x122cm.
The exhibition was curated by gallery director Anna Prifti and included wonderful artists and their paintings, offering a variety of works using a range of mediums. Anna asked me to write a short essay for the exhibition, which is attached below.
An Abstract Reality
“To us, art is an adventure into an unknown world which can be explored
only by those willing to take risks.”1
This first line in Rothko’s manifesto written in 1943, continue to echo through the years to the work of abstract artists today. He would emphasise repeatedly that for him, “the essence of painting is the artist’s unique perspective of the world, and the communication of that perspective to the observer. That to enter a painting is to enter the artist’s reality.” 2
Painting then becomes a certain type of knowing, and an expression of that knowing. A visual vehicle for the artist’s philosophical world view.
Abstraction, with it’s propensity for multiple layers of meaning and interpretation, allows for the communication of multiple ideas, which may change over time as the viewer “sees” with new eyes. with each viewing of the work. If the viewer allows time, abstract paintings and objects, will reveal themselves in new ways, recreating themselves and inviting further interpretation.
There are a variety of styles of abstraction including hard edged, expressive, lyrical, gestural, minimal, intuitive, all of them acting as vehicles for the exploration of deeper understandings for the artist. Whether it be delving into the field of colour and it’s emotional or optical power, exploring the intensity of form, taking a line for a walk, working with the material used or journeying deeply through the mind and heart.
In the case of Malevich, his pure, geometrical abstraction was “an entry into the exalted realm of pure thought” and heralded the path away from painting’s depictive role”.3 Now, painting was no longer tethered to the reality of the external world or a figurative depiction thereof. Herein, painting could reflect the artist’s mind and thought processes,and a visual vocabulary evolved, one that was independent of traditional cultural associations.
A visual language requires that it must be expressive. No longer tied to serve meanings for other objects, the elements of colour, form, contrasts, harmonies etc could express independently. Abstract paintings may well be inspired by the natural world, however, freed from a descriptive role, they are able to “offer a recognition of the sensation, without the actual incident which prompted it.”4 Herein, lies the artist’s challenge of creating, through their own unique lens of experience, another language.
The artist creates a new experience for both themselves and for the viewer. An experience, which is then unique for each observer, as they see the painting through the context of their own world view and life experience.
Abstraction offers and invites multiple layers of interpretations and associations, which are not static or anchored in concrete objects or in time.
The exploration of the medium itself adds further dimensions of meaning, both conceptually and materially, opening further doorways of meaning. In the 1930 Manifesto of Concrete Art, it was stated that there was nothing more concrete or more real than a line, a colour, or a plane, being free of any basis in observed reality and without any symbolic meaning. This was later expanded as the aim to create in a visible and tangible form, things which did not previously exist – to represent abstract thoughts in a sensuous and tangible form.
To take on such an undertaking, is a commitment to truth. The artist’s truth, to be true to their own unique vision and knowings of the world. A journey that lays bare their vulnerability and sensitivity to the smallest nuances in their chosen field of inquiry. To take the courage to create a new way of seeing and expressing this in their own way and to then share it with an audience with the invitation for creating new dialogues between the work and the viewer.
Western Abstraction, was born in Europe, and Hilma Af Klimt’s paintings were only quite recently recognised as amongst the first abstract works known in Western art history, predating Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian. In her abstractions she searched for new forms in artistic, spiritual, political and scientific systems. Her experimental drawings from the late 1800’s led toward an inventive geometric visual language that was able to conceptualise invisible forces both of the inner and outer worlds.
It seems fitting to mention Af klimt and her contribution and indeed inception of abstraction, for women’s role in the field of abstract painting can often be overshadowed by their male counterparts. To celebrate and acknowledge women and their considerable part of the Abstract movement is important and I for one am very pleased to be invited to participate in this exhibition.The viewer is invited to take time to gaze upon the works, to see with new eyes, to feel with an open heart and explore with the curious mind, as the paintings reveal themselves and the artists reality.Their explanation arising out of a consummated experience between picture and onlooker.
Dawn Csutoros, 2022
1 Mark Rothko, Diane Waldman,Thames and Hudson
2 The Artist’s Reality – Philosophies of Art, Mark Rothko,Yale University Press
3 Robert Hughes,The Shock of the New, Art and the Century of Change, BBC Books
4 Bridget Riley, Dialogues on Art, Thames and Hudson