Components of Good Abstract Paintings
It is somewhat difficult to set forth the qualities that make an abstract work substantial and aesthetically sound. There are however, certain attributes that are common with the great works of abstract paintings.
Basic composition is an important component of an abstract painting. A composition can be aesthetically restful keeping the eye of the viewer centered on the work, or the composition can be skewed creating perhaps an intentional disturbance. Areas of blank canvas may have enough power to become a virtual part of a composition thereby balancing other elements.
Isness 1, 60"x48" Mixed Media on Canvas by Bassmi
Composition may also take shape using large open fields of color such as the famous works of Barnett Newman. In some works the entire surface has almost no detail and becomes an atmospheric open field such as my own series Layers of Silence.
Layers of Silence 5, 38"x28" Mixed Media on Canvas by Bassmi
Color and color relations play an important part in conveying the emotional content of the work. When used correctly, color has the power to directly affect the vibrational aspects of its immediate surroundings. Color is a major component that affects the emotional response of the viewer. Because of the infinite variations of color and color relationships, color sets the basic mood of an abstract painting.
When color is used monochromatically without focus on detail, the painting may elicit a peaceful response. A misty open field of soft colors can inspire a calming and meditative effect. Color can also be used to convey a sensual response in the viewer. On the other hand color may be used to evoke somber, dark and disturbing emotions.
While it is somewhat elusive to talk about depth in an abstract manner, as this is not the depth of perspective as we know it in the traditional sense. The depth that I’m trying to describe here is a quality that moves the viewer into a rather mystical space, beyond the confines of the two dimensionality of the work. Mark Rothko’s paintings are a prime example of the depth that can be achieved in an abstract work.
An example of a painting by Mark Rothko, Yellow Band **
Another important aspect of a substantial abstract painting is the dynamic activity that produces action, or the lack of action, within a painting. A prime example of this dynamic activity is in the work of Jackson Pollack. An example of the lack of action in a painting is clear in the work of Barnett Newman.
Layers of Silence 12, 60"x48" Mixed Media on Canvas by Bassmi
Most great works of abstraction convey a powerful vibrancy that I like to call the “spirit” of the work. This “spirit” or essence of the work is one of the most important aspects that distinguishes great art from mediocrity. Many amateur works fail to convey this vibrancy and power.
Another interesting component is the mystery that some paintings convey, a quality that creates a certain meditative plateau in which the viewer is invited to participate. This component is a major aspect of my work.
Isness 29 60"x48" Mixed Media on Canvas by Bassmi
Because my works are created in a deep state of meditation, they become prime examples of this quality.
In the future, we will continue to delve deeper into the topic of abstract art.
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