“What is this suppose to mean?” I often get as I attend to the gallery, “This looks like something a four-year-old would do!”
The comments are always about abstract art, “I don’t get it.”
But what’s to get? It’s an image that tells a story.
The wonderful thing about the mysterious shapes or markings; drawings and seemingly arbitrary paint drippings we see in modern art galleries is that it frees the imagination to run. Remember when you were a child, lying back on the green grass on a warm Summer’s day looking up into the cumulous clouds?
Remember the clouds taking shape:
“There’s a rabbit!”
“That’s a man with a cane!”
“There’s a dragon chasing a star.”
There was a story in each one of those clouds, and it’s those stories I search for in the abstracts that are in front of me in the gallery. What real-life connections does this shape/these colours remind me of? What feeling? What myth?
The wonderful thing about abstract drawings are the viewer’s interpretation, not the artist’s. Sure, the artist may have begun with some intent, but in the end, it’s what the viewer sees that brings life to the object.
And life there is! A story hidden amongst lines and colours and contours that we can bring out of the page.
Years ago, some of the brightest students in my class were students that didn’t have televisions because, on a daily basis, they had to let their minds do the work of the story: creating the vision, the characters, the sounds, the colours. Now, with television and film; ipods and internet, so much of this constant creative work is readily completed for us, that we no longer need to think. That makes being in a gallery twice as hard for the average person.
There’s a story there waiting to pop out at you. Look. Watch. Feel. See. Imagine what’s going on.