MavK

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The Sexual and Emotional Nature of Abstract Expressionism

Mav Kuhn Sexual Emotional Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism facilitates reproduction of a creatively sexual nature: “reproduction” as emotional conjoining and birth, without any sense of duplication. It is art on a multi-cellular level which appeals to us as complex beings. Merely through the act of SEEING my art, you and I are inextricably connected.

Abstract art may appear quaint when viewed from the radical array of today’s artists, such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, but it is probably the most important development of 20th Century art. Abstract art experienced its boom period in the 1940s and 50s on the New York scene. This came about due to the European avant-garde emigrating to the US during the war. However, abstract art is far from passé.

The process determines the style. The picture paints itself: it manifests.

By definition, abstract art is not a “single thing”; there is great diversity in what makes each abstract artist an artist. Abstract art calls themes, images and things to mind, but never describes them. The process determines the style. The picture paints itself: it manifests. The thought is not cut from the mind by an intellectual Caesarean, to then be forced onto the medium as duplication, single cell reproduction. As UK based artist John Hoyland (1960s) said, “I’m trying to coax the painting along. I’m not trying to impose on it. I’m not trying to force a rigid idea on it.” Instead, abstract art manifests through the synchronous presence of artist and materials, freely birthing a unique, cosmic event, most often not lacking the blood and shit of a natural birth, at least in its potential effect on the artist and ultimately on the person who engages with the finished piece: thus it is a more complex creature brought to life!

…abstract art manifests through the synchronous presence of artist and materials, freely birthing a unique, cosmic event…

The diversity of artists under the umbrella term “abstract art” is exemplified by painters such as Howard Hodgkin, who never considered himself to be an abstract artist. He believed abstract art to be purer and said of himself that he was “a figurative painter of emotional situations”. There were also the abstract artists of the so-called Op Art movement, such as Bridget Riley, who used optical illusions and depth perception to create an experience of what “looking” feels like. This emphasis on emotions and feelings is what birthed the sub-genre, although it stands on its own, of Abstract Expressionism.

My own personal love lies less with the crisp lines and forms of pure abstract art, and more with the richly coloured and densely expressive art of the abstract expressionists, such as Gillian Ayres.

Abstract art in all its forms, then and now was and is, to my mind, exemplified by large-scale canvases and sculptures reflecting an American thirst for gigantism, even amongst artists beyond America’s shores. These pieces shout and scream experiences either of pure emotion, or of emotional responses and reactions to people, landscapes or other subjects.

Does abstract expressionist art have to be BIG? Can emotions only be expressed through gigantism? If you have grasped the concept of abstract art as a manifestation between the artist and her medium, then you will understand that the only limits are those of the media and the mind of the artist.

Small pieces call for greater focus by the viewer, a kind of microscopic perception – to SEE closely, bridging physical space between textile art and viewer…

I prefer to work on a much smaller scale, rarely expanding beyond the size of an A4 sheet of paper, although some of my sketches reach the size of an A3 sheet. However when it comes to my textile work, I generally keep to a size that could be covered by both my hands, and I have small hands!

Small pieces call for greater focus by the viewer, a kind of microscopic perception – to SEE closely, bridging physical space between textile art and viewer, rather than standing back to absorb a giant impression that sometimes could swamp one. Miniature/small-scale work is comprised of emotional whispers, little to no bold shouting. Does this weaken the emotion conveyed? No. Consider what secrets of love and torture are whispered from one to another conveying intimacy, shyness, shame, fear … a full subtext of further emotions, just through the act of whispering.

…I see an ever-growing need to experience and feel life in concentrated meaningful moments that are lived with a sharper level of awareness than applied to the rest of our lives; there is a NEED for art.

As an affirmed and aspiring Minimalist in my private life, I strive continuously to live more with less. Life is short, and so many hours are frittered away through excessive watching of facsimiles of life on TV and in social media, our own lives lived vicariously through binary coding. We dilute our experience of life by isolating ourselves behind some form of screen, creating a barrier between us and An Other, so we avoid direct eye contact and emotional connections.

Consequently I see an ever-growing need to experience and feel life in concentrated meaningful moments that are lived with a sharper level of awareness than applied to the rest of our lives; there is a NEED for art. Life as most people live it has dulled our senses and souls until we are no longer moved by even the most extreme of emotions, channel hopping our way past images of war, destruction and abuse.

In such a society, many people may indeed need the gigantism of the majority expressions of abstract art; a visual slap in the face to snap us out of our post-modern stupor. However, some may seek a more intimate and perhaps private interaction with the emotions of another human being, namely the artist.

…art experiences a second birth as the piece is filtered through the senses and gestated in the soul of another being.

My current textile work is developing in a direction that calls on the viewer to peer closely, overcome emotional distance, and apply meaning. I seek to manifest and express symbiosis between my own soul and the media I work with, be it silk, cotton or wool threads, linens, canvas, felt fabric or carded unspun wool. No, I generally do not apply meaning to a piece when I start it; I do not decide to create representational art that replicates images I see with my physical eyes. Yes, I allow the materials and colours to guide my hands and then, often to my surprise, I uncover a meaning.

Sometimes, a person, having been told my vision, will look at my art and say, “I see what you mean”. But in most cases, the person who interacts with my art creates their own meaning and tells me a story that has nothing to do with my own personal vision. This is when art experiences a second birth as the piece is filtered through the senses and gestated in the soul of another being. As such, you could say that the meanings created by other people are my creatively genetic grandchildren!

Abstract expressionism facilitates reproduction of a creatively sexual nature: “reproduction” as emotional conjoining and birth, without any sense of duplication. It is art on a multi-cellular level which appeals to us as complex beings. Merely through the act of SEEING my art, you and I are inextricably connected. Even if you forget my art and me, the moment of conjoining cannot be denied. You may reject me and the emotions I convey, but I continue to romance you, if you would but look and see.

©Mav Kühn 2014-2016

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2 comments on “The Sexual and Emotional Nature of Abstract Expressionism

  1. Joleene
    March 22, 2016

    Wow. Fascinating read! As a creative myself, I never considered a different point of view as a rebirth, yet it is.
    Love the thought from John Hoyland, too. “Not trying to coax it.”
    Brilliant. Thanks for the education. 💖

    Like

    • Mav Kühn
      March 22, 2016

      Oh thanks so much for your lovely comment, Joleene! I have just subscribed to your site! 😀

      Like

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2016 by in Art, Freelance Writing, Spirituality, Writer For Hire and tagged , , .
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