Talking About Contemporary Abstract Art


Artists frequently get questions on “what is their art about”. It is only natural that people look at the art with the intention of making some sort of sense out of it, to create meaning from the colour, form and texture in front of them. I’m speaking about abstract art, where representational form is not present. Here sometimes a title can be helpful and I try to give titles to my work to provide a stepping off point for viewers to enter the work and create meaning for themselves on their own terms.

Tonight I found the website of Swedish artist Eva Ryn Johannissen. I think she has articulated very well her believe that viewing her art should be experienced on an emotional level, something that I have also tried to encourage viewers to do.

“According to one definition an abstract artist is someone whose art ‘departs in varying degrees from representational accuracy’. My own paintings are not normally abstracted from a physical motive at all. Instead they are mental constructs resulting from an interplay between my experience of contemporary life and the painting process itself.

To me as an abstract artist, all the formal aspects of painting, brush marks, colours, tones, layers of paint, surface texture, become means of addressing my experience of contemporary life. Painting means participating in a happening; it involves trying to surprise and surpass myself while being open to the unexpected. Memories and previous experiences become fused with ever new questions that arise during the process.

When looking at non-figurative abstract art, the viewer needs to lay aside all preconceived ideas of what a painting should be. Instead of trying to determine what the artwork represents he needs to simply let himself be stirred by the movement of ideas in his unconscious mind even as he thinks he is merely looking at colours, abstract shapes, texture.” (Eva Ryn Johannissen)