Why abstract?

Some quotes and comments on abstraction, I find these useful to return to:

‘The picture is not the vehicle of meaning: it is the meaning.’ Patrick Heron. 

Heron’s work stems from his belief of painting not being dependant on external references for its meaning:  the impact on the viewer is not dependant on describing the world beyond. For Heron, the meaning was in the painted surface, the all-over interconnected and unified visual field – balance of composition through colour, light and shape. The distinction between figure and ground does not exist as each colour-shape or area however large or small, is as important within the painting as any other.


‘I feel highly involved with the battle between figuration and abstraction, relying on a certain amount of visual play with illusion/allusion, usually triggered by the work itself.’ Anthony Wishaw

Wishaw’s work is concerned with differing series of subject matter and language, often worked on concurrently. These can overlap to produce unexpected hybrids, with some paintings being worked on over many years. https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/name/anthony-whishaw-ra


‘Elizabeth Neel’s paintings and sculptures blur relationships between architecture and the body, memory and action.
While ostensibly abstract, Neel’s paintings have an uncanny insistence on the representational residue of mark making. Her smears and punctuations of tape hint towards the reconstructive narrative potential of abstraction.’ www.pilarcorrias.com/artists/elizabeth-neel


Agnes Martin’s work is recognised as pure abstraction, in which space, metaphysics and internal emotional states are explored through painting, drawing and printmaking. www.pacegallery.com/artists/290/agnes-martin

Rain 1984-9 Howard Hodgkin  www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T05771






‘I tell them [the viewer] what the picture’s about, always. I’ve never painted an abstract picture in my life. I can’t.’ Howard Hodgkin 2006


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