Back in the 17th century, art students were required to (sometimes literally) sit at the feet of the masters and painstakingly copy their techniques until they could replicate them themselves. Yes, some of the world’s great art came out of that period and the rather strict teaching methodology, but over time it grew repetitive and stagnant. It didn’t matter if your work was perfectly realistic and identical to your teacher’s masterpieces, it was all still a bit boring. Artists wanted to try new things, and of course, were discouraged from doing so by those who (think they) know better, but some experimented anyway, and so the art world evolved and grew more diverse despite its best efforts to maintain the status quo. Tradition was certainly still respected, but innovation was exciting, and Australians embraced it!
The following centuries saw a wide variety of intriguing art movements come and go, like impressionism and art nouveau, but these styles, although fresh and most certainly new, still maintained the stale old concept that a painted thing should in some way resemble its model. Well, there came a time when all that changed, and when it did, the change was drastic! Fast forward to the beginning of the 20th century and witness the birth of abstract art! Form fell by the wayside, replaced by painted realms of colour and movement defying tradition, and challenging the viewer to find their own meaning in art that transcended the laws of the physical universe.
Abstract art presented strange new alternate realities that didn’t have to look like any one particular thing at all, the pieces were independent of the surrounding world and simply were whatever one imagined they might be, best enjoyed without the burden of judgment and adherence to the strict forms that dominated the old methods.
There are two concepts that help define the indefinable world of abstract art. First, an independence from the constrictions of the mundane, that maintains an internal order all its own. Secondly, the development of colour as a symbolic medium. The goal is to instill the viewer with thoughts and feelings stemming from the moods of the piece’s colour palette. Vivid reds and Stygian blacks inevitably invoke war and disaster, blood and looming darkness, whilst soothing greens and shimmering golds echo the renewing power of nature. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so experience some abstract art today!