Since its creation at the beginning of the twentieth century, abstract art has inspired and intrigued, provoking complex questions and proving beautiful, beguiling and bizarre in equal measures.
Whether referring to sculpture, painting, photography, drawing or even installation, “abstract” quite simply means non-figurative representations. Rejecting familiar forms, abstract artists focus on colour, lines, composition and shapes, to produce and provoke meaning and emotion. This shift in focus should be rightfully recognised as the revolution that it was, given that pre-twentieth century art has been dominated by the figurative since the Renaissance!
First seen in the works of Russian painter Kandinsky in the early 1900s, it would be no exaggeration to say that the abstract genre may well be the most dominant within 20th, and now 21st, century art. From Cubism, Constructivism and Geometric Abstraction to Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism; countless historical movements have stemmed from its conception, inspiring a myriad of masterpieces including the iconic spattered canvases of Jackson Pollock, the soulful rich planes of Mark Rothko and the primary coloured blocks of Piet Mondrian.
Today, artists follow in the footsteps of these abstract aficionados, and within our online shop and fairs, we are lucky enough to have dozens of artists who take inspiration from the abstract genre. Read on for a little insight into some of our favourites:
Colour is key within abstract art, and artists from Rothko to Kandinsky have utilised the wonderful scope of the colour wheel to evoke mood, soul and emotion. Simon Ledson’s stunning painting is a work to really get lost in, capturing some of Rothko’s expansiveness and bringing to mind Gorky’s description of abstract art being ‘beyond the tangible’. The contrast of the linear brushstrokes of the yellow strip, and the mottled blurriness of the blue-grey, creates a striking, intense composition.
If you like Simons’ work, why not also take a look at Jon Rowland (main image). Also reminiscent of Rothko, his striking abstract work uses an explosive burst of colour to capture the viewer, and it certainly succeeds. The colour takes on a life of its own; soft yet bold, his work would be an amazing show-stopper to brighten up a blank wall. Or, for a similar intensity, browse Stephen Powell’s paintings, which use vivid panes of blue and turquoise. In these works, colour provides a conduit through which artists can express themselves, and Stephen has commented ‘I find that using just the language of colour composition and mark making, is a more articulate way to describe the subject’.
Abstract art doesn’t always have to be bold and bright, and a number of our artists utilise muted colour palettes and soft textures to evoke feeling within their viewer. Using the landscape as her starting point, Susan Laughton’s abstract pieces, such as Shadow Path I, beautifully suggest a sense of transition and fleeting glimpses.
We also love Chad Goei’s pastel work Doxa and Amber Bones. Painted on wood, Chad’s elegant composition echoes the colours and architecture of the Californian landscape, with the looseness of his paint application contrasting with vertical lines that make up his composition. Hang on a darkly coloured wall to really bring out the colours here, or team with some soft furnishings to make the textures sing.
We can’t get enough of the bold brassiness of Sophie Layton’s Sky Scrapers III, which nods to the convention of geometric abstraction, relying on line and shapes. Seen in the modular forms of the Russian Constructivists, this genre has a clever capacity to add some order amongst chaos. Sophie’s combination of sharp, brightly-coloured triangles and the monochrome print behind is striking, and a wonderful addition to an office or living room needing a little oomph and order.
Take geometry to the next level with Gareth Griffiths’s stainless steel sculpture. Influenced by architectural features such as upswept roofs and curvaceous shapes, as well as materials such as glass and steel, Gareth’s bold use of bright red here creates an explosive, exciting work, and a great example of how the abstract can translate to sculpture.
Texture is also a vital component of abstract art work, providing a different way for artists to imbue their work with meaning. Through mixed media or heavily applied paint, two-dimensional works can embrace the 3D, creating gorgeous effects. Take Jack Tanner’s powerful metal piece. Using pozi screws, oil and spray paint, it pulses with life and electricity, giving a real effect of movement.
In contrast, Esther Miles’s beautiful Advection is a celebration of all things miniature. Essentially a canvas full of miniature paintings made of gouache and aerosol on paper, the work seems both textile and kinetic, taking on a life of its own as the viewer moves around it. Like many abstract pieces, it may feel different each time you look at it; just one of the reasons why abstract art is so exciting to collect!
This really is the tip of the iceberg, and these wonderful examples are just a taster of what our online shop has to offer—so get stuck in and embrace the allure of the abstract!
Jon Rowland, Coast - Summer Weather, 2017, Acrylic on paper, 30 x 40cm, £540 Wychwood Art
Featured art from first to last:
Simon Ledson, Hiriketiya-L, 2018, oil on canvas, 122 x 76cm, London Contemporary Art
Jon Rowland, Coast - Summer Weather, 2017, Acrylic on paper, 30 x 40cm, £3,400 Wychwood Art
Susan Laughton, Shadowpath I, 2018, Acrylic on board, 40 x 40cm, £495 Art Agency
Chad Goei, Doxa and Amber Bones, 2017, acrylic on wood, 76.2 x 91.4cm, £920, Kahn Gallery
Sophie Layton, Skyscrapers III, 2015, 76 x 57cm, £500, Liberty Gallery
Gareth Griffiths, Noordhoek, 2017, stainless steel on metal, 57 x 37 x 18cm, £1,300, Degree Art
Jack Tanner, Rotate, 2017, metal, 64 x 64 x 7cm, £2,750 Fflow Gallery
Esther Miles, Advection, 2018, Gouache on paper, 23 x 33.5cm, £245, Linda Blackstone Gallery