I consider myself an abstract painter. Why? Simply, because the abstract imagery is capable of triggering in me the strongest emotions, no other representation can do. I can recognize good art in any medium and style, I can admire skillful work, but the emotions are always connected with mystery of abstracted representation.
I remember way back in the 60th, when I was a student, seeing my first Kandinsky in a Museum in Moscow. I was speechless, I did not know anything about abstract art except that it was considered decadent, degenerated art. The huge work was half hidden behind a wall with bad light, but for me it was such a surprise, it took my breath away and filled my eyes with tears of joy. It was so powerful.
Recently, when I started painting, I red every single book I could found about Kandinsky, wanting to penetrate his world, his truth, to understand through him myself in my passion for abstract art. I learned a lot. Studying mainly through reading books, browsing albums, taking notes ( that is why I have handy so many quotes to post)I got to know many other abstract artists, whose work spoke to me, opened my mind and brought the understanding I was searching for.
“I would like an imagery that would be totally specific but couldn’t read in any terms of the visual world. It would be totally clear as an image but you could not specifically identify it. It would be interchangeable with many things… Is it a cloud, a balloon, a circle? Is it mathematics, is it poetry? That sort of dream. I like that.” Grace Hartigan
“To my mind abstraction is not abstraction at all. It is the realism of our time. Art should communicate. I have no desire to communicate with everyone, only with those whose thoughts and feelings are related to my own. Paint quality is meaningless if it does not express quality of feeling. The idea that a painting is merely an arrangement of lines, colors and forms is boring. Subjective images do not have to have rational association, but the act of painting must be rational, objective and consciously disciplined.” Adolph Gottlieb 1903-1974
“The light I paint is not found in the indoors or outdoors. It is the light I want to see on my canvas. It is mine and it is hidden from me. The hope of discovery spurs me to go on working at a painting until this light appears. Confronted with what I have struggled to bring out, I find I have entered a realm of abstraction….In painting, form is not independent; it is tied to light and atmosphere. Forms is contained in them….When I find the color of the painting I find the form, the imagery. The color is the most important element, it gives me a time and place.” Angelo Ipolito b. 1922
“The inner world is only furnished with aspects of the outer world, no matter in what juxtaposition. There is no other source for form and color than the visual, tactile world.” John Ferren 1905-1970
“You shouldn’t look at modern art as a scene you see out the window. Abstract painting exists within itself, it lives its own life. One should get a sensation from painting just as you get a sensation from smoking, or drinking whiskey. You must tear down mental barriers before you feel the sensation that comes from an abstract painting.” Melville Price 1920-1970
“Painting is always strongest when in spite of composition, color, etc it appears as a fact, or an inevitability, as opposed to a souvenir or arrangement. ” Robert Raushenberg 1925 –
“When asked to explain his abstraction Kline replied: I’ll answer the same way Louis Amstrong does when they asked him what it means when he blows his trumpet. “Brother, if you don’t get it, there is no way I can tell you.” Franz Kline
“When I paint I don’t know every line in advance, but I know in general what I am about.” Franz Kline
“The power of fully abstract art lies partly in its refusal to lay bare its sources in the visible word or elsewhere. A painting exists as an object in the real world, yet for abstract artists it need not be a windows onto that world. This resistance to or escape from that world with all myriad details is abstract art’s chief asset and its point of criticism for those who insist that art play a more literal social role.” Campbell
“Motion is the strongest appeal to attention.” R. Arnheim
“Not even the artist knows where the painting will lead him, but it surely will be into a new realm that contains comparable surprises and pleasures.” Campbell
“The construction of meaning for the abstract painter is a partnership with the viewer, a fragile, trusting relationship contingent upon the viewer’s willingness to go along for the ride. So long as an art audience exists that is willing to do so and take the risk of uncertainty, the viewers of abstract art will remain. As this audience diminishes or increases, so does the fate of abstract art waver and hold.” Campbell
“I think that you can make…involuntary marks on the canvas which may suggest much deeper ways by which you can trap the facts you are obsessed by. If anything ever does work in my case it works from the moment when consciously I didn’t know what I was doing.” Francis Bacon
(Bacon frequently starts a painting with a controlled “accident” of paint thrown at the canvas which often evolves into a figure in violent movement in a disquieting domestic settings or landscape. The next task was to create what Bacon refers to as an “armature” upon which he” hang” the paint.)
“A painting….is intended to evoke the impact of a configuration of forces”. Rudolf Arnheim
“I think of my paintings as dramas, the shapes in the paintings are performers. Neither the action nor the paintings can be anticipated or described in advance. At the moment of completion they are seen to have the quality and functions which was intended.” Mark Rotko
“Abstraction and representation are totally different worlds, different laws, different methodology. Representational must deal with the specific reality. Painting abstractly did not mean seeing differently – simply see different things, being able to forget the specific reality of a depicted object. It is not a matter of painting life. It is a matter of giving life to a painting.” Unknown
“I hold my mind and my work free from any association foreign to the act of painting. I am thoroughly inspired and agitated by the actions themselves which painting requires. This puts me in a positive mood, which I must follow until picture is done.” Hans Hofman