The most powerful truth about art is that it is immediately accessible. Sometimes it seems there is a mystique around ‘fine’ art, turning it into something that can only be enjoyed by the initiated while the rest of us remained puzzled and disconnected. However, art is not just experienced intellectually, it is felt and our unique perspective produces a unique response. People assign value to art not just because of the skill or technique but because of the story behind it. An incredible example is Jackson Pollock, who is most famous for his drip period in the late 1940s. His audiences responded with complete rejection to raucous applause and for me it started with skepticism. Superficially these pieces looked like a toddler-fueled chaos of paint spills and splatters. What was even more interesting was how people found so much meaning and detail in what appeared to be the random spattering of paint.
Number 10, 1949, Jackson Pollock
Over time my narrow perspective was broadened and reflection on this art and abstract expressionism allowed abstraction to affect my own art. I have been looking at his paintings in museums all over from the Met to the National Gallery of Art and most recently the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In this recent visit, Pollock was featured alongside Picasso. Picasso was a prolific artist who proved himself with striking talent at a young age, but was motivated by Matisse to experiment and be more radical with his style. He went on to contribute to many revolutionary movements in the first half of the 20th century, perhaps most notably cubism. Quite a different pedigree but in his work alongside Pollock their mutual connection to abstraction is clear. Abstraction is freedom from the representational qualities of paintings, from something that looks like a photograph. Among Picasso’s exhibited work was the bull series, an incredible collection studied for its revelation of the artistic process through a series of progressive abstractions. Starting with a fairly realistic depiction of a bull, it evolves through a stylized abstraction until it is embodied by just a few lines.
El Toro, Pablo Picasso
My own art has taken all kinds of turns and developments, and like me it has evolved and hardly even resembles it’s beginning. This painting represents an experimentation into the abstract, a pure creative release in a stressful time in my life. I was moving into a much smaller apartment and wouldn’t have room for some found furniture. In an act of defiance I removed the legs from the Ikea coffee table and turned the top into a canvas. It became a wonderful symbol of frivolity as I struggled through balancing graduate school and work in my cramped apartment. I never even gave it a title and actually I think it’s rather fitting. I have my own feelings and inspirations, but I’ll let you experience it without too much of my own biases.
Untitled, Ryan Nixon