Friday, February 16, 2007

Abstraction vs. realism

When I paint, I usually strive for a high degree of realism and count among my influences Hopper, Sheeler, Demuth (the example at left), Goings, and the more recent Rackstraw Downes. (I'm also increasingly enamored with Lucian Freud, particularly the non-portrait work.) Although I've long appreciated abstract painting and enjoy it increasingly, it's not something to which I aspired as a painter. Indeed, as I felt moved by subject matter - predominantly urban landscapes, which I've discussed in this blog already - the thought of abstraction just wasn't there.

More recently, however, I've flirted with the idea, particularly after visiting a show at the Whitney on Picasso and his influence on American artists. So I made the leap and here's the example. It's fairly simple, as far as an abstraction goes: straightforward color scheme, slightly skewed perspective, amorphously defined face. But as one of my regular critics observed, she conveys emotion - either a measured reserve or, with the red dress and stronger skin tone (rather than pallid features suggesting weakness), a barely controlled aggression. Having elicited that reaction, I'm pleased with the ambiguity. Hmmm, I may have to revisit abstraction again, to see what I can pull out of it. (The distortions in the image are a product of my inability to get this one to lie completely flat, hence the buckling along the top. Grrrrrrrrrr.)

1 comment:

One Wink at a Time said...

I tend almost exclusively toward realism and have always tried to figure out exactly why abstracts (most) make me as uncomfortable as (most) jazz.